APL Teen Reporting Unit

This page is a description of a pilot program of the APL that the Foundation is currently working to support.

The Teen Reporting Unit (TRU) at the Albany Public Library will connect teen filmmakers and established news agencies to produce authentic and engaging journalistic media for youth. This project will be an extension of APL’s existing partnership with YouthFX (YFX@APL), Albany’s award-winning teen film/video academy.

The project involves a year and a half of activities, which culminates in a five-week media production workshop in the summer of 2019.

Since 2015, YFX@APL has advanced youth engagement and created a community of creators by teaching the technical and creative aspects of digital filmmaking and offering a thorough overview of the production process from script to screen.  YFX@APL instructors have facilitated a series of short programs at the Library’s six branches, including multi-week film workshops, a podcasting workshop, and stop-motion animation workshops.

TRU leverages the success of YFX@APL to respond to greater interest in media literacy in the age of “fake news” accusations. In 2016, The Pew Research Center found individuals 18-29 to be

more negative toward the news media, displaying lower levels of both approval of news organizations and trust in the information they get from them.

However, these reports also found this group to be as likely as others to click on links to news stories in social media, additionally finding that people in this age bracket are twice as likely to get their news online as those in the 30-49 age bracket. As dependence on social media and online outlets increases, it has become more difficult to distinguish advertising and editorial content from objectively reported news.  Further, dissemination of patently false information has been exposed as a motivating factor in Americans’ social, economic, and political attitudes. This trend is particularly harmful for young people, who are most reliant on social media for news and entertainment.  

Beginning in Fall 2018, APL will hold a series of public outreach events for potential program participants. Two Community Conversations, open to the general public, will connect national questions about news, veracity and truth with the specific habits and experiences of teens.

In Winter 2019, a one-day Media Literacy Bootcamp will be offered to 30 Albany teens.  Only those who successfully complete the Bootcamp will be invited to take part in a 5-week summer workshop.

In Summer 2019, the TRU culminates in a five-week video workshop in Summer 2019, offered to 20 teenagers from the city of Albany. Participants will produce short online videos to accompany news stories published by the Albany Times-Union and/or other Albany media channels. These will be informative and accurate news videos written and produced by youth, for youth, to be shared online by the Albany Public Library, media partners, and widely on social media.

Concurrently with the public events, program planners will collect data on the media habits of the teenage and young adult population of Albany, including awareness of and engagement with the newspapers and news radio, online versus paper readership, and attitudes and relationships of area youth with news media as a whole. Readership data and web analytics will be coupled with broad surveys implemented before and after Media Literacy Bootcamp and five-week workshop as a means to test the project’s impact as well as shape content and methodology.