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‘Sacramento Has Talent’ raises funds for youth journalism program

Nonprofit, non-commercial media Access Sacramento, offers paid stipends to young journalists ages 16-21. To raise funds for the stipend program, on April 4, you can sample local, diverse and enteraining talent – 12 acts in all – set to perform at 7 p.m. at the Crest. Click here and judge for yourself. 

Funds raised help pay stipends to the two-year media project "Neighborhood News – Youth Correspondent Stipend Program". As social media grows, especially with younger generations, traditional mass electronic and print media continue to struggle with diminished advertising revenues, reporter layoffs, and fewer resources for the coverage of local neighborhood news. New challenges invite new solutions – welcome to the world of “Neighborhood News”. Much progress has been made in the first two-years of this innovative use of aggregated web site technology. Here’s a quick history.

Access Sacramento, the community radio and television nonprofit organization for Sacramento County, launched a new web site www.AccessLocal.tv in late 2010. Designed to better serve the information needs of diverse communities in South Sacramento, the site invites local residents, leaders, and young journalists to record digital stories, submit them directly to the web site with their “smartphones”, post blogs and videos for all to see, and share this new content via an RSS feed to the Sacramento Bee “Sacramento Connects” and KXTV News10 “My Neighborhood” aggregated blog sites.

Thanks in particular to our “Neighborhood News – Youth Correspondent” stipend program, local 16-21 year old students are taught and mentored in the fine art of shooting and editing videos and crafting well written news stories. AccessLocal.tv shares all the digital neighborhood content online with our readers and with local media – television, radio and print. For the past six months, we have been offering our “Neighborhood News Youth Correspondents” specific writing assignments, deadlines, financial stipends and gift cards to their friends who contribute stories to the site. These efforts have accomplished our goal of at least one new story or video per day and averaging 60 new stories per month. The stipends permit the youth to be contributing members of their households and help with much needed resources for lower income families.

By reviewing the AccessLocal.tv topics under the “Youth News” heading, one is impressed by the many “health and well being” topics reported by our correspondents. Here are a few titles posted within the past few months: “Young Mothers Must Strive to Be Extraordinary”, “Urban Farming: A New Way of Producing Food”, “What Brought Me Back to the Brink of Veganism”, and “Fairytale Town Hosts Canned Food Drive.”

The web site is functioning well as an online platform for surfacing and sharing all manner of digital content directly and via local major media partners, surfacing previously untold hyper-local stories from the underserved communities of South Sacramento. While expected, the success of the program is both (a) simple to explain – gathering and distributing stories of life in our wonderfully diverse neighborhoods – and (b) challenging – identifying, training, and facilitating the “digital contributions” of many individuals and organizations, posting them to an aggregated Word Press web site, and sharing the content with all local media organizations interested.

Community media facilitator, Access Sacramento, has successfully served as a “neutral party” in the competitive world of regional news and information providers. Though varied in the level of cooperation, every major television station has contributed to the success of the program. KCRA Channel 3 hosted the First Youth Media Forum and continues to be supportive of the process. Both the print and online versions of the Sacramento Bee have featured stories and content developed by the NNB and hosted the Second Annual YMF. The online Sacramento Press hosted our Third Annual Youth Media Forum for Social Change and continues to find new ways of highlighting our Youth Correspondents.

The news gathering field continues to be very competitive but the identification of hyper-local stories as “news leads” for newsrooms depleted by lay-offs combined with the NN-YC development of our future generation of journalists have successfully positioned the NN concept as a project worth supporting.

However, we have also discovered many new challenges including the academic careers of our youth correspondents. As they move on to college or to other jobs, new replacements must be found. This training challenge “churn” was addressed by developing a specific group of “Youth Correspondents” who worked closely with a specific NN-YC mentor (Isaac Gonzalez). Gonzalez summarizes this experience as follows:

“Going forward into 2013, I envision that our group will be seasoned and ready to be deployed into breaking news environments, covering important and topical events as they happen, from a youth perspective. Our primary focus area will remain the South Sacramento target area, but we also cover the surrounding areas as well, in order to remain relevant in the Sacramento region. Internally, fundraising has been added to our list of things to do, to maintain their stipends and the monthly awards for submitted peer produced content.”

The latest challenge is ongoing funding for the project. The initial grant fund from The California Endowment we used to pay for the stipends, has now run its course. How do we sustain the program financially now the TCE Grant has expired?

On April 4, 2013, Access Sacramento will host “Sacramento Has Talent” on the stage at the Crest Theater. The best local talent will be on display honoring Dr. Barbara O’Connor with the first “POV Award” for her advocacy work with youth and senior citizens. She exemplifies “the Power of Voice expressed from a unique Point of View”. The goal of the evening ticket sales and major corporate underwriting will be funds sufficient to support the continuation of our Neighborhood News Youth Correspondent stipend program.

We will invite local nonprofits, corporations, and media organizations to join with others to underwrite this event. For ticket information go to www.AccessSacramento.org and plan on an entertaining evening. The Youth Correspondents will be there to welcome each guest. Together, each correspondent is “making a difference in our community, one voice at a time.”

Further questions may be directed to:
Ron Cooper, Executive Director
Sacramento Community Cable Foundation
d.b.a. Access Sacramento
4623 T Street
Sacramento, CA. 95819
(916) 456-8600 ext. 112


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