Engaged Journalism and Youth Civic Engagement: Lots of Questions

Part of 22×20 is the promotion of local news media outlets to support, be in conversation with and collaborate with youth in their community to amplify more diverse voices and more stories of youth civic engagement. This week I am in a series of conversations about journalism and civic life. First, I am participating in a Democracy Fund gathering about engaged journalism, and second the Online News Association 2018 conference.

I began thinking about local journalism many years ago specifically in relation to youth media literacy skill development. As soon as I started thinking about local media ecosystems and about information about public issues as an input into youth civic development, it became very clear that media literacy was only one aspect of how journalism could affect youth civic engagement (both positively and negatively, I would propose). And, no, it doesn’t stop at information or at a pipeline into journalism careers.

This week, I’m listening and asking questions that maybe challenge assumptions about how information, civic engagement and civic development are related.

We believe that local journalism can be in conversation with and collaborate with youth in their community for possible mutual benefit. We believe that this can open incredible possibilities for building cultures of civic engagement. Some might call this “engaged journalism”. As a result, this week, I’m thinking about these questions related to this movement in journalism:

  • How can engaged journalism play a role or act as an input in a local support system for youth civic development?
  • Under what circumstances can engaged journalism build media literacy skills?
  • Can engaged journalism build a youth audience/constituency beyond an outlet’s existing reach?
  • Under what circumstances can engaged journalism center marginalized youth voices?
  • What’s needed at news media outlets to be able to work with youth in more than a pipeline frame?