COMMENTARY: What I learned as a youth journalist at the 2019 Statewide Youth Media Conference

February 22, 2019 /

I have only ever known how to be a journalist through writing, but this past weekend, I met other youth journalists who tell stories through so many other platforms: podcasts, documentaries, poetry, photography and art.

Youth journalists across the state came together Saturday and Sunday in Oakland for the 2019 Statewide Youth Media Conference. Through workshops and listening to speakers, youth journalist learned how to be change makers in their community through different forms of storytelling.

I was able to attend the conference, which allowed me to network with other young, bright and talented writers.

“The event covered many different aspects of journalism, not just writing and interviewing,” said Sarah Ng, with YR Media in Albany, California. “I learned a lot about journalism being illustration. The illustration workshop was my most memorable experience because it showed that you don’t have to have a crazy artistic ability to illustrate and inform people in this field of work.”

The conference workshops taught journalists how to expand multimedia and journalism skills and how to have conversations on pressing issues, such as politics, fashion, immigration and LGBTQ rights.

Ivan Caballero, from Access Sacramento said his key take away from the event was being able to connect with more people and young journalists in California and network and learn from each individual.

“My most memorable experience here was seeing the speaker Brian share his documentary, which was extremely powerful as he presented his community and the issues in it,” said Caballero. “It really stuck with me.”

I believe this conference is important for youth journalists to build skills with others and allows for youth to create connections between other youth journalists from rural and urban areas such as San Diego, Fresno, Los Angeles, Oakland, Sacramento, Merced, Bakersfield, and more.

“I learned to always dive in to journalism with good intentions and to do it because you like it and genuinely enjoy writing about issues and topics that interest you most,” said Olivia Terforlack from Boyle Heights Beat. “It is important to be invested in people’s stories and show a deeper level of someone else’s story rather than just writing them.”

“The poetry class resonated with me the most as we talked about how spoken word can be a form of spoken art, and you can incorporate it into your personal work, like a first person story,” Terforlack said.

The students at the conference were all so welcoming and were eager to learn from each other.

But, what really allowed for conversation to flow was the variety in ideas, experiences, beliefs and backgrounds, whether it be our ethnicity, our experiences or homes. There was always something to discuss.

Each workshop helped me open up and become a better journalist as I learned to tell my story through photos, graphs, sketches, and through voice recording. I had only known how to express myself and my work through writing.

Youth journalists were taught to produce powerful journalism and first-person storytelling as a way to highlight issues we and our communities face.

I learned youth journalist are to be a force of change in the world.

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Aubrey Jasso

Aubrey Jasso is a youth reporter from Delano.