In the era of “fake news”, youth media organizations from all over California came together for the 2018 Youth Media Statewide Conference to sharpen their skills in journalism. This event was held in Oakland between February 17th – 18th at the Waterfront Hotel and was hosted by Youth Radio, a nonprofit media production company, an institution that prepares young people for the 21st-century digital workplace. The conference consisted of speakers and their experiences as freelance journalists, workshops on topics concerning photojournalism techniques and social media management, and networking opportunities.

So why is it important for young reporters to learn skills about media literacy and journalism? In light of the 2016 election, many American consumers of digital news and social media are aware of fake news and many young reporters in California are working to combat that with training in media literacy and in the production of quality, reputable local news.

“I really enjoyed meeting other youth media programs at the conference,” said Jazmine Justice-Young, a fellow youth media reporter. “I think my team and I learned a lot from the workshops they had that we’ll be taking back with us.”

Various workshops were provided to train young reporters to create quality news content. Erika Aguilar, a Podcast Producer and Reporter of KQED Public Radio in San Francisco, and Laura Klivans, a Community Health Reporter of KQED Public Radio who is also stationed in San Francisco, gave lessons in podcasting – and what different formats they consist of in terms of the level of production – as well as some techniques to ensure maximum audio standards for the audience’s experience.

Noah Berger, a freelance photographer who works for national and international news outlets such as the Associated Press, Reuters, the San Francisco Chronicle, and the New York Times, did a presentation concerning his experiences, techniques, and ethics of photojournalism. He demonstrated hands-on lighting techniques and discussed the best approaches to covering protests and other potentially-risky assignments.

Annie Yu, an Audience Engagement Editor of the L.A. Times, taught strategies of using social media in journalism to be more engaging to the audience. The basics include making a social media plan for a story, leading crowdsourcing campaigns, and building an audience.

The 2018 Youth Media Conference was overall a success as many youth reporters learned from experienced journalists and the training and support provided by the conference helped to sharpen the skills needed to be a credible, self-sufficient journalist.