What do you do?
I am the executive producer for the education team at KQED, the Bay Area’s PBS and NPR member station. I work with a team of talented digital media producers and curriculum writers to create content that supports teacher professional learning around media literacy and youth media production. My biggest focus at the moment is producing a YouTube series for high school students called Above the Noise, that dives into the research behind controversial and trending topics in the news. The series is the featured media in KQED Learn – a web platform for students where they can join online discussions with other students around the country, and make and share their own media. I’m also an independent documentary filmmaker, and recently co-directed my first feature film The Corridor, which is about the nation’s first high school to operate inside an adult county jail system.
Tell me about your latest work or project in media literacy.
At KQED, we strongly believe that making and sharing media is a crucial component of media literacy education. Our work is to help educators learn media production skills themselves, so that they can better integrate media and production into their teaching practice. We also work hard to connect the youth we serve to a larger audience outside of their classrooms. Through initiatives like KQED’s Youth Takeover, we leverage the programs and audiences that we have access to at KQED to help students get their voices out to the public. Right now we’re focused on the 2020 presidential election, and next year we’ll launch a national call for students to submit multimedia “letters to America” to share the issues that matter most to them.
Why is media literacy important to you?
We are living in a time of media oversaturation, manipulation and invasion of our privacy – and it can be overwhelming. At the same time, there are so many open doors to inquiry and self-expression. I’m fascinated by the dark and the light sides of the media ecosystem, and want to help young people navigate it with their eyes open to all of the dangers and opportunities. As a documentary filmmaker, I’ve seen the powerful benefits of researching issues I’m passionate about and crafting stories to share with others. I’ve also seen the pitfalls that come from that privilege and the critical need for reflection and knowledge of self in that process. I want more than anything to help young people – especially those who are often ignored or silenced – to enjoy those same benefits. They have so much of value to share.
What are you most excited about in the media literacy field?
I’m excited to see the cultural moment we are in right now—when people in all fields and walks of life are finally getting what media literacy is and why it’s so important. It’s the silver lining of a very scary time for our democracy. I love how teens in Generation Z are taking the mic and making themselves heard. They are media savvy in ways that I never imagined possible even a decade ago, and they often surprise me with how much they know about media: how it’s made, the intent behind it, and how to remix and make it their own. Of course there is also a huge need to help them learn to evaluate information and understand the digital tools that dominate their lives – but this generation really inspires and energizes me.
Why did you become a NAMLE member, what benefits do you see to membership, and how will it support your work?
I’ve been a NAMLE member for many years – going back to my days on NAMLE’s board of directors while I was the Education Manager at the Independent Television Service (ITVS). I saw then how dedicated and forward thinking the NAMLE community was, and how crucial this work is. But it’s never been easy to integrate media literacy education into the required curriculum, and even harder to scale its adoption in classrooms across the country. As someone working in the field, it’s incredible to be connected to so many smart, hard-working people who get how the health of our democracy and culture depends on media literacy. The only way we can all have more impact is through collaboration and supporting one another to do this work.