Youth and Technology Project underway in Los Alamos

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By Carol A. Clark

Two journalism students from Syracuse University are in town through Sunday working on a Carnegie-Knight initiative on the future of journalism called “News21.”

The Carnegie and Knight Foundations have funded 12 journalism schools to participate in the project with the hope the schools can help journalism make the transition into the digital age.

News21 has teamed with a “Christian Science Monitor” project called “Patchwork Nation” that is exploring 11 different types of American communities, which includes Los Alamos.

The Syracuse News21 group is exploring the topic “Youth and Technology” in each of the 11 “Patchwork Nation” communities.

Syracuse fellows Brad Horn and Melissa Romero arrived in town Wednesday and began meeting people and conducting interviews.

Horn, 32, is a master’s candidate at S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. Horn is focusing his graduate studies on multiplatform journalism, NPR-style radio and online storytelling. He has a self-designed degree in documentary studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he was on the team that produced the Online News Association’s 2005 Student Journalism Project of the Year.

Romero, 21, is an undergraduate at S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. She is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in print journalism with a minor in anthropology.

Romero serves as the managing editor for Equal Time, a student-run general interest magazine, and writes for the Cicero North Syracuse Star News, a local paper.

Romero and Horn began gathering content for the “50 people, one question” part of their project. They set up their equipment at Los Alamos High School and spent some four hours talking with students and faculty.

Romero describes the students as, “just a wonderful mixture of hilarious, smart, funky, quiet, thoughtful, outgoing teenagers...”

They also met with Pac-8 and were interviewed by KRSN, which aired this morning.

Among those interviewed by Horn and Romero are Krista Edwards and her grandparents Joe and Marty Arellano. Edwards, 21, goes to the University of New Mexico, She is home for the summer working as an intern with the Los Alamos Chamber of Commerce.

One of the things that came out of their interview is Marty sharing how at times she feels “left behind” when it comes to the advances in technology.

Also, Joe told his granddaughter that her generation needs to know that there is a time to put technology aside and simply have a one on one, face to face conversation.

While Romero and Horn are here pursuing stories pertaining to youth and technology, because this project is experimental, they also are looking for interesting ways to collaborate with local people to co-create media projects.

“Our preliminary research shows that young people are looking for a different type of media experience than was traditionally found in broadcast news and in newsprint. They want an experience that's informative, but also an experience that’s informal, has a degree of entertainment, and is local while at the same time connecting them to the broader world community,” Horn said.

The Young and the Wireless is a part of News21 and Horn and Romero blog about it daily at http://youngandthewireless.com/monied-burbs/.

There are two easy ways to get involved in the project with Horn and Romero until they leave on the Sunday.

The first is to be interviewed as part of their “Interviews with people under 30” series where they’ll ask simple questions that are meant to give insight into the ways young people think about and use technology. These interviews should take no more than 10 minutes.

The second way is to be interviewed as a family, like the Arellanos and their granddaughter, as part of the “Interviews across the generations” series.

In this series Romero and Horn lead discussions about some of the hopes, fears, and possible misconceptions involving young people and their use of technology. What lessons can elders give to young people about how to behave online? What do teenagers want to tell their elders about how and why they use the internet?

The primary focus is on grandparents and grandchildren, though parents and children are encouraged to contact them, as well.

To record one of these conversations, visit Horn and Romero at the locations listed below, or e-mail or call them to set up an appointment.

• General interviews with people under 30:

1:30–3:30 p.m., Wednesday inside Mesa Public Library

3:30–5:30 p.m., Wednesday at the Skate Park,

• Interviews across the generations (appointments encouraged):

2–6 p.m., Thursday at Fuller Lodge (outside porch).

“In the end, what all 11 Syracuse fellows are hoping to find is how the youth in these 11 communities are using technology, in ways that either bring them together with people in their lives, or push them farther apart from one another,” Romero said. “Maybe we'll find that the youth are using technology in a completely different way over in El Mirage, Ariz., or Baton Rouge, La., than here in Los Alamos, or maybe we'll find that there's not much difference at all. Either way we hope the final product simply interests people and leaves a lasting impression."

Find out more about the project at www.theyoungandthewireless.com. Contact Horn at bradhorn-at-ibiblio-dot-org or (919)357-3086. Contact Romero at melissalromero@gmail.com or (302)598-3279.

Contact Carol A. Clark at lanews@lamonitor.com or (505) 662-4185 ext. 25. Read her blog at www.newsextras.wordpress.com.