Spotlight: I AM not the MEdia, Inc.

When did your organization launch and why?

At the age of 26, Jimmeka Anderson founded the nonprofit organization, I AM not the MEdia, Inc. in May 2011 as a response to her own challenges she had with self acceptance from the media’s influence in her adolescent and young adult years. At the time, Anderson had no idea that she was engaging in media literacy, but saw the need to empower teens to become critical consumers of media by analyzing the text and subtext of media messaging and evaluating its influence in their lives.

In January 2012, Anderson launched a series of over 20 workshop programs devised through research on teenagers and the media conducted by her team at the time. Initially the workshops focused on five categories: body image and stereotypes, sex and healthy relationships, teens as consumers, media safety, teens and healthy living, and bullying and teen violence. But the organization was intended to be more than just an educational resource for the community — it was intended to be a movement! The capital letters of I AM not the MEdia spell “I AM ME,” which underscores the organization’s vision for individuals to embrace their individuality and for us all to champion our differences that are not represented or are misrepresented in the media. Since its inception, I AM not the MEdia has evolved its programming to focus specifically on the influence of social media on the lives of adolescents and continues to offer curriculum and outreach workshops for schools and community organizations.

What does your organization do? What are its main goals? Main projects?

The mission of I AM not the MEdia (IANTM) is to empower teens and young adults to become conscious viewers of the media, critical decision makers, and to embrace their individuality and uniqueness through media literacy and media creation. Main projects that the organization has includes the Teen Media Literacy Conference, The Cyber Citizen Series and Outreach Workshops.

  1. The Teen Media Literacy Conference: A weekend immersive learning experience for teens between the ages 13 and 18. While residing on a college campus, teens are empowered, trained and equipped to become media literacy advocates in their schools and communities. Over the course of 2.5 days, teens learn media literacy skills, are exposed to media industry professionals/careers and work on a media literacy advocacy project to implement in their school or community.
  2. The Cyber Citizen Series: Through a series of six educational workshops, teens learn about the media’s influence on mental health, social media safety, digital citizenship, cyberbullying, social media democracy and misinformation. At the conclusion of the series, teens are challenged to work with a professional photographer and create photo campaigns that encompass the usage of photo voice while educating and spread awareness to their peers and community. Photo campaigns from this initiative are displayed yearly in a community exhibit or online exhibit.
  3. Outreach Workshops: Any organization or site can book IANTM for a one time program or for a series of programs that may extend for up to a year. Our organization receives out-of-town requests as well as college visit requests. We serve group sizes anywhere from 15 participants to 400 participants. Organizations can submit their program requests online via our website. For any questions regarding program requests, email: Cassandra Alston at cassandra@iamnotthemedia.org.

What makes your organization stand out? What would you say is the most unique thing about your organization?

When you see the branding of I AM not the MEdia, it immediately makes media literacy feel “cool” to the teen audience it serves and to anyone that encounters it. The organization not only pushes the educational component of media literacy, but makes media literacy more of a mindset and movement that anyone can join by wearing a shirt or connecting online. Although the organization targets teens, youth as young as five and older adults have gravitated to the imagery associated with the message that I AM not the MEdia “I AM ME” provides to the masses and requests shirts, bags and other paraphernalia. Additionally, I AM not the MEdia is an outreach based organization that is available for programming for any organization seeking curriculum or a speaker for their youth, parents or educators. The accessibility of I AM not the MEdia to the public is a major stand out component as the organization provides on-the-go and ready-to-implement learning experiences for communities any time and any place, including virtually, through their online booking system.

What are recent projects or new resources that your organization would like to share with other NAMLE members?

In October 2020, I AM not the MEdia, Inc. will launch the Teens and Social Media Online Exhibit which will feature over 50 photo campaigns constructed by youth that capture the influence of social media on the lives of teens. The online exhibit will interactive and may serve as a resource for educators to spark dialogue with students. A live panel discussion on Facebook and Instagram Live with teens highlighting photos from the exhibit will take place during U.S. Media Literacy Week 2020.

Additionally, I AM not the MEdia is working on the Past is Prologue: Digital Humanities Youth Exhibition with the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library, The University of North Carolina at Charlotte’s Urban Education Collaborative and several local middle and high schools to develop an online archival site for capturing historical artifacts, imagery, and content of the Black educational experience in Charlotte, NC from 1920-2020 that will launch December 2020.

Lastly, I AM not the MEdia has been funded a grant to host the Keepin’ It Reel: Black Girls Film Camp in partnership with a local film director in Spring 2021. This film camp combines critical media literacy, technology, and film production to empower high school black girls to create counter-narratives through the art of storytelling regarding critical issues that influence their lives and education.

What are the connections between the work of your organization and media literacy?

I AM not the MEdia strategically targets marginalized populations to provide ACCESS to media literacy programming, technology and experiences. IANTM provides educational experiences through outreach programs for teens, parents and educators that equip them to become critical consumers of media by ANALYZING and EVALUATING messages and content. Every IANTM workshop with teens encompasses and element of media CREATION and empowers every participant to become advocates for media literacy education.

Why is media literacy important to your organization?

Media literacy is very important to our organization because it is pivotal in shaping identity with adolescents. Our organization believes that media literacy is essential to teaching teens “how to think” in a world that has been built on teaching them “what to think.”

Anything else you want our readers to know about your organization, your mission, or your staff?

About The Founder: Jimmeka Anderson is a doctoral student in the Curriculum Instruction Urban Education program at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte with a research focus on critical digital media literacy education. She received her master’s degree in Educational Media with a focus on New Media Literacies and Global Perspectives at Appalachian State University. While serving as the Founder and Executive Director of I AM not the MEdia, Inc. for nine years, she has developed curriculum and award-winning community programs that empower youth through media literacy and media creation. Additionally, Jimmeka is the Chapter Lead for North Carolina for Media Literacy Now, the creator of the Teen Media Literacy Conference in Charlotte, NC, and has served in several leadership roles with the National Association of Media Literacy Education. Prior to pursuing her doctoral degree, Jimmeka worked as a Library Outreach Coordinator for ten years at Charlotte Mecklenburg Library and for the past three years has served as a Course Instructor and Community Engagement Consultant with the Carolina School of Broadcasting.

The views and opinions expressed in the Organizational Spotlight blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of NAMLE or its members. The purpose of the Organizational Spotlight blog is to highlight our Organizational Partners and give them a place to share their reflections, opinions, and ideas.

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