Widening our view of youth in Baltimore
Last week we conducted a news hunt around the topic of youth as portrayed in Baltimore's media landscape.
Our partner in this search for good journalism about and affecting young people was the nonprofit organization Wide Angle Youth Media. Several staff members, including Stephanie Dickard, Myra Margolin and Susan Malone, helped identify, post and review news stories.
Dickard and Margolin said, "It was very interesting to do a news hunt with an eye for how youth are portrayed in the media."
In reviewing stories, they noted that "depictions of youth in the media usually fall into one of two extremes: exceptional or eccentric stories of youth or depictions of violence perpetrated by or on youth."
They believe that stories on crime (like this one) usually provide "very little context" and leave an "impression of very violent youth with little understanding of who the youth are or the contexts in which youth crime occurs."
Take a look at the stories on youth collected in this news hunt and tell us what you think.
This news hunt ran from Monday, April 4, through Sunday, April 10. During the week, the NewsTrust Baltimore community reviewed 35 stories in the youth category. Of these, six received a NewsTrust rating, and six were considered above average.
* Classmates remember slain student (reviews) - The Baltimore Sun
* Walbrook Film Project Teaches Students About More Than Holding a Camera (reviews) - Unsung Baltimore
* Teen Electrocution Death Exposes City’s Decaying Wiring System (reviews) - Afro
* McDonogh hosts Japanese exchange students amid catastrophe (reviews) - The Baltimore Sun
* NASA influences teen's future (reviews) - Salisbury Daily Times
* For Stoneleigh youngsters, interest in steel drum band is elementary (reviews) - Towson Times
* Tuition for illegal immigrant students gets preliminary House approval (reviews) - Maryland Reporter
* Woodlawn High Team Headed to National Robotics Competition (reviews) - Pikesville Patch
* Legislators Urge Rawlings-Blake to Get the Lead Out (reviews) - City Paper
* Teen uses mural to deter graffiti in Columbia tunnel (reviews) - The Baltimore Sun
* UNDER FIRE — Arrest of high level DPW official prompts councilman to question city's employment practices (reviews) - Investigative Voice
* 9-Year-Old Food Critic Takes To The Blogosphere (reviews) - WBAL-TV
* Housing Authority Refuses to Pay Lead Paint Judgements (reviews) - Baltimore Slumlord Watch
* Kids These Days (reviews) - Urbanite
* Truancy (reviews) - The Baltimore Times
* No cheating allowed (reviews) - The Baltimore Sun
This news hunt surfaced several examples of fine journalism on youth, including coverage and commentary on the lingering effects of lead poisoning and inspiring examples of young Baltimoreans' technological and musical achievements.
Our survey of news certainly captured the dark side of young people's lives in the city. A frightening case of a missing teen girl remains unsolved. A 14-year-old boy was charged as an adult for beating his grandmother with a hammer. A city employee with a history of accusations of abuse of minors was arrested.
At the same time, other news stories reflected a different side of youth experiences. In Annapolis, young activists pressed their case for undocumented immigrants' access to higher education. On the blog Unsung Baltimore, Kevin Griffin Moreno (who happens to be a very active News Trust Baltimore member) covered an inspiring youth film project in Walbrook. At the McDonogh School in Owings Mills, students opened their school, homes and hearts to Japanese exchange students.
It was definitely a week of striking contrasts.
During our news hunt on youth, reviewers also brought renewed attention to several important stories from the past few months.
"Kids These Days," an editor's note by Urbanite magazine's Greg Hanscom, explored the generational impact of revolutions in technology. His discussion of "digital natives" prompted some excellent discussion from reviewers.
In response to the essay, Malone, executive director of Wide Angle, asked, "Who is not just addressing the digital divide in our city classrooms but seeking solutions for it?"
Ashley Ward (a Towson University student and "digital native" herself) said: "This was an interesting story to read. I especially like how the author used his own children as examples. This story had me thinking to myself and even comparing. ... I think it would have been nice to get some opinions from college students on the subject and the comparison to other generations."
Wide Angle intern Morris Johnson took notice of a Bmore Media story about a student who has created a search engine for over-50 web users. Morris praised the story because, he said, it "provides both a personal and professional perspective."
"In addition, it spends some time evaluating the benefits to having a site like Good50 by highlighting some of the unique health issues that Good50's users might face," he wrote. "The story makes this student's particular innovation relevant and interesting to the reader."
Despite positive stories like this, our partners at Wide Angle looked at the balance of news in Baltimore's media and came to the conclusion that much more needs to be done to highlight "well-rounded, diverse and balanced depictions of youth in our city."
Do you agree? Are some stories getting too much, too little, or the wrong kind of attention? We invite you to continue following the stories appearing at our youth topic page. We welcome your thoughts!
Thanks to our community
We'd like to thank our community members and media and educational partners who helped find the stories that were part of this news hunt. If you are not yet a member of NewsTrust Baltimore, please sign up and join the experiment; your voice is needed and welcome.
In this week's news hunt, we're returning to the topic of politics. As the legislative session has drawn to a close, you can help us find the best journalism on politics by posting and reviewing stories.
Please help us post and review stories on these topics -- the success of this social news experiment depends on the participation of members like you.
Thank you again, and see you on the site!