June 28, 2016
Free Spirit Media (FSM) provides education, access and opportunity in media production to over 500 underserved urban youth on the west and south sides of Chicago every year and exists to create opportunities for urban youth to tell stories about their communities. It is passionately committed to cultivating these diverse voices through high quality media-making programs and advancing education and digital learning through its innovative program model. Thanks to Voqal’s support, Free Spirit Media strengthened its solutions-journalism practices and participatory distribution ventures to activate critical social dialogue and civic engagement.
In order to fully amplify its youth reporters’ voices, Free Spirit Media partnered with several organizations in the Chicago area. As a founding partner in City Bureau, the young adult journalists in Free Spirit Media’s Real Chi Youth program work with City Bureau on a weekly basis. City Bureau professional journalists mentor Free Spirit Media’s youth reporters and help them develop advanced digital media and storytelling skills. City Bureau also functions as a distribution partner for Free Spirit Media’s journalism portfolio. In addition to working with City Bureau, Free Spirit Media partnered with Mikva Challenge and Yollocalli Arts Reach to launch the Youth Pulse political reporting project, pilot pop-up youth radio broadcasts, engage in collaborative community-focused reporting and amplify youth voices through new outlets.
Furthermore, thanks to Free Spirit Media’s partnership with Mikva Challenge, its student reporters had the unique opportunity of covering the presidential campaign in Iowa during the lead up to the 2016 Iowa Caucuses. The group worked alongside nearly 200 young people from Mikva Challenge to find out what issues youth in America care about and how they can be politically engaged. FSM youth reporters visited campaign offices, interviewed volunteers about key issues, covered a Hillary Clinton rally featuring Chelsea and Bill Clinton and met colleagues from the Washington Post and other international media outlets, who demonstrated their equipment and discussed social media strategies for covering the event.
As a strong proponent of creating an engaged and empowered community through the innovative use of media and technology, Voqal is a proud supporter of Free Spirit Media’s work and looks forward to its continued efforts to mentor and train the next generation of community journalists.