Over 14 hubs funded by the California Endowment gathered together at the 4th annual California Statewide Youth Media Conference this past weekend.
Youth from Access Local TV, Voicewaves, We’Ced Youth Media, The kNow Youth Media, Aja Project, South Kern Sol, Boyle Heights Beat, and YR Media all helped plan the conference with Lauren Rascoe, the national Network Coordinator for YR Media.
Workshops and presentations on graphic journalism and illustration, developing short form videos, podcasting, photography, interviewing, and creating narratives were held by leaders in media from across the state including: Elizabeth Campos, Digital Editor at NBC Bay Area and Jeff Valenzuela, Documentary Photographer.
Elizabeth was raised in Mexico until she came to the United States as a high schooler. She then transferred from community college to the California State University of Long Beach.
As someone who started off working at Voicewaves in Long Beach, she encouraged the young members of the audience to keep telling their stories.
“The work you do is important and they need you” said Campos during her presentation at the conference.
Elizabeth has worked for the New York Times and is now with NBC of Bay Area. Audience members asked her about what self-care she practices when dealing with the heavy topics that journalists deal with. She responded by saying that she tries not to think about what’s happening when she gets home from work and if she feels like she needs to talk, she has that support system.
Jeff Valenzuela too, was asked by the audience during a Q and A how he practices self-care; he explained how important it was to step away and take care of yourself.
“The weight’s not yours to carry”, he said.
Valenzuela documented the migrant caravans that drove through Mexico to the US border with his camera after the presidential election in 2016. His name was added to a list of journalists and activists that were being tracked by the FBI because of their assistance to the migrants seeking asylum.
He told the audience that he has to cry or surround himself with people who will support him through these emotional experiences.
On Sunday morning, Olivia Teforlack, Melissa Franco, Zofia Trexler, and Rachel Livinal sat on the youth panel where they showcased a piece of their work and answered questions about their creative process and inspiration for their pieces. These youth shared pieces about struggles that LGBTQ+ tolerance in America, gender identity, bi-racial identity, and youth organizing a food drive.
Everyone who presented and facilitated workshops during the entire conference left youth and adult allies feeling empowered and inspired to continue their journeys in media and journalism.
Elizabeth Campos told youth to continue sharing their stories and to not feel fearful of the future; that they have to just go for it. She shared a quote from her Tia that helped her when it came to receiving or not receiving opportunities as a journalist.
“Whatever is for you, no one takes it”.