beats & stories
Medill’s News21 Fellows told in Shift the stories of a new generation of adults who have graduated from college, are living in major urban areas and are encountering issues and making choices that will define the lives they will lead, and the people they will become. In the aggregate, these individuals’ choices will shape our culture.
This new generation, as the Fellows defined it, is roughly aged 2228 (variously called Millennials, Echo Boomers, Gen Y). It included the audience American-born children of immigrants but was in no way limited to them. Fellows’ research showed clearly that in most ways, second-gens have the same concerns and questions as other college graduates their age. There are, however, some big, provocative-issue differences, too, and Fellows explored them.
As in most newsrooms, Medill’s News21 Fellows were assigned (most were self-selected and then refined as the shape of the project became clear) reporting responsibilities, or beats. Unlike in most newsrooms, however, beats were organized around the issues that the audience had defined as most critical as they begin to control their futures, alter their worlds and enter on-their-own adult lives.
Here are the reporters’ beat assignments:
- Dating and marriage. The dynamics of relationships, especially the challenges of intercultural and interfaith relationships. Leslie Patton
- Career choice. Following a passion, or chasing the money? A conventional, expected career, or an unforeseen, gratifying direction? Lizz Kannenberg
- Relationships between generations. Navigating social networks. Observing and respecting heritage, tradition and family, while making your way in a dynamic, multicultural world. Jane Park
- Religion/spirituality/ethics/morals. Relating to religion culturally and spiritually. Choosing to practice your parents’ faith, turn to a different tradition or attempt to avoid those questions. Kate Shellnutt
- Taking care of yourself. Lifestyle choices affecting physical, mental, emotional health. Watching your personal internal calendar and clock. Tara Haelle
- Gay/lesbian self-identity and cultural issues. Defining personal and public identities. Coming out. What happens when sexual and cultural identities collide. Relating to the older gay generation. Bill Healy
- Social responsibility. Making a difference in your community, as a cause-focused activist, or by building your life with others who share your ideals and will work with you to achieve them. Kristen Minogue
- Media and identity. How mass media reflect cultures, and shape self- and cultural images. The rise and role of ethnic media. Hamsa Ramesha
- Use of technology. The role of computers in communication, and the dangers of supplanting face-to-face. Innovation and it implications, including what’s next. Kiran Sood
- Personal finance. Saving, spending, investing. Lessons, values, habits. Kiran Sood
- Finding and forming communities. Physical, geographical, virtual, special interest. Meaning and value of community. Using community to help find yourself. Melina Kolb
- Women’s/gender and work/life issues. Work goals vs. family goals, including cultural and generational differences. Finding balance. Pay gap. Josannah Birman
- Civic Engagement. What public issues matter, and what informs them? Ford Clark
Medill’s News21 Fellows reported and produced multimedia journalism about the issues facing their audience recent college graduates living in major cities who are American-born children of immigrants and the decisions that will shape their lives.
Some stories were done in video, some audio, some slideshows, some in the written word. Most, however, combined or integrated multiple storytelling forms.
Fellows produced roughly 130 stories. Here are some of the most viewed, examples of the breadth of stories that resonated with the audience:
- Coming Out Atheist
The difficult decision of the non-religious, to come out of the still-dark, stigmatized atheist closet.
- Mapping Out Marfa
A small, artsy West Texas town is home to a fluid population of young adults, hoping the desert will reveal their lives’ paths. A five-part video series.
- Dating & Marriage: Tradition Meets Tension in Indian-American Homes
This source of parent-child friction can be an especially shaky balance when young adults are trying to assimilate into adult-American culture, while remaining true to parents’ old-country beliefs and customs.
- Gay in America: When Culture and Sexuality Collide
Sorting through one’s sexuality can be especially difficult and painful when cultural taboos are involved.
- This Muslim-American Life
Allah and the arts, the Inner-City Muslin Action Network, a virtual, national roundtable. Artists, activists and Muslims discuss roles, challenges, perspectives in a six-part package.
- Behind the Names
How second-generation Americans embrace their identity, and how their given names shape or reflect their experience.
- An Alternate Path: Community Living Experiments in the City
Making social responsibility a life focus, by joining with others who share ideals.
- In the Name of Dios: Mormon Missionaries Bring Urban Hispanics, Catholics into the Church
LDS diversifies, seeking a broad group of converts in Chicago.
- The Ultimate List: All 30 Things You Should Do Before You Turn 30
From humanitarian and selfless to hedonistic and selfish and back again.
- Dreamers: Undocumented Young Adults Face Uncertainty
Good grades, U.S. college degree, but without citizenship there’s a roadblock to career and the expected life of achievement. Featuring original drawings by undocumented residents, expressing their feelings.
- Does a Diverse Nation Need a Diverse Media?
Even with the supposed doom facing mainstream media, one part of the journalism business is poised to thrive ethnic media.
- Like Mother, Like Daughter: Family, Culture, Career, Pride
Three cultures. Two generations. One bond. A video series looked at the lives of mothers who came to the United States from other countries and the daughters they have raised here.
- The Wesleyan World of Social Networking
Online ministries have become a must for churches trying to engage a generation living in the instant-gratification, constant-communication world of Twitter and Facebook.
- E-Motions: How the Internet Has Changed the Way a Generation Thinks, Feels, Expresses
Today’s generation is transferring more of its day-to-day activity from the physical realm to one that exists beyond computer screens. The implications?
- The Jane Park Files
A Korean-American reporter finds 500 Facebook members who share her name, and sets out to find what else they have in common.
- Punk and Pious: Muslim-American Rockers’ Unconventional Islam
For the second-generation Americans leading this contemporary cultural movement, Muslim punk isn’t just an irreverent juxtaposition.