The REAL New Media

The future of mass media in the United States is a bright and positive one. Now, I know that flies in the face of all the mainstream reports about the death of newspapers (long live the P-I) and the absence of popularity for television news. But folks, I’m here to say that there is a great hope mingling among us. This morning I was reading an article in last month’s Fast Company mag called “Will NPR Save the News? ” It easily extolled the virtues of NPR’s “digital smarts, nonprofit structure, and good old-fashioned shoe leather” and their hyper-successful podcast, blog, an open platform that allows listeners to mix their own podcasts, and an iPhone app. All this had led NPR to become the leading media outlet in the US, and they’re growing rapidly. Goody – because I’m a fan.

But there’s something else happening here that I don’t hear being talked about. Out there across America today there is a raging underground energy running frenetically throughout the media/activist community, and that energy is the power of youth voice. 100s of organizations across the country host youth-led media making programs today. I have found a few . These programs are actively engaging young people in creating newspapers, websites, podcasts, television programs and all sorts of new media. They are reporting on issues affecting their communities, their world and themselves. 
Embedded within these programs is a notion of connectivity: when young people become media makers they most certainly become more effective media consumers, and in turn tie in closer with their neighborhoods, cities and cultures. What does that mean for NPR? Well, a major differentiating factor between NPR and other forms of mainstream media is the profit motive: where others are driven by pumping dividends back to their boards, NPR is striving to make enough money to sustain and re-invest their programs. Mainstream media clearly lost that motivation, and that’s why they’re dieing. Youth-led media programs are going to prove essential to New Media because youth-led media represents both “new” and “media” – interactive, responsive, and personalized. To a lesser extent, because of their exposure to nonprofit organizations through these programs, young people will also be better mentally prepared to donate their time and money to supporting the delivery of quality media in the future.
Programmers and youth workers alike need to recognize the awesome burden on the shoulders of media today as it goes through its transition. While their model is dieing traditional media needs to realize that young people are more than the future of their business: they are the present, creating massively important, massively relevant and massively poignant media that will shape, encourage, and drive the future of democracy in the United States.
Written by Adam Fletcher, this article was originally posted to Learn more at!

Published by Adam

For almost two decades, Adam F. C. Fletcher has led international outreach focused on engaging people successfully. Working with thousands of youth-serving nonprofits, K-12 schools, government agencies, international NGOs and other organizations around the world, his work spans the fields of education, public health, economic development and social services, and includes professional development, public speaking, publishing, social media and more. He founded the Freechild Institute for Youth Engagement, SoundOut and CommonAction, as well as writing more than 50 publications and 500 articles. He has also established 150-plus community empowerment projects.

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1 Comment

  1. Adam, is it possible for me to repost your article in my blog? It would be nice if your views get read by more Filipinos, especially the youth.

    The youth voice you write about is also present here in the Philippines. It just probably needs more social content injected into it. Exposure to your articles, I’m sure, will give our youth much-needed enlightenment and encouragement that through the new media, they’ll be able to help shape a better future for the Philippines.

    It’s Blog Readers Appreciation Day today, April 16, and I’d like to thank you for keeping track of, and taking interest in, what we do in this part of the world.

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