When I was in junior high and high school the closest thing I came to being a reporter was writing poetry in my pink journal. I never dreamt of being able to interview the Mayor of Detroit, celebrities like Sinbad, Dave Coulier and tween stars or travel to northern Michigan as a reporter to cover the Detroit Regional Chamber Mackinac Policy Conference.
However, that is the reality for Youth Neighborhood News (YNN) Logan Network reporters.
Like, most reporters, I got my “real” journalism experience on the job. Some might get their feet wet at the college newspaper or radio station but few are able to have a resume filled with experience even before they apply for college. That is the case for YNN Logan Network reporters who have gone through the programs since 2010.
These student journalists who are still in high school are not only studying broadcast journalism … they have been honing their craft since the program launched as real general assignment reporters. YNN Logan Network has been covering a variety of news stories about Metro Detroit as a Detroit Regional News Hub program.
The program is funded by Strategic Staffing Solutions, whose founder and CEO, Cindy Pasky, is a woman truly dedicated to Detroit and the future leaders of our region. YNN Logan Network is a tribute to Pasky’s long-time friend, Sam Logan, the deceased publisher of the Michigan Chronicle and a strong advocate for professionalism in journalism and encouraging and the advancement of young people.
YNN Logan Network is in collaboration with my alum Wayne State University and Detroit Public Television.
YNN reporters report on the news and tell the stories about what is happening to transform the Metro Detroit neighborhoods through the eyes and voices of student reporters … the “younger side of the news.”
The program is just three years old and they are already providing stories to PBS’s NewsHour. They’ve interviewed Mayor Bing and former White House press secretaries, covered the North American International Auto Show, local and national celebrities and done stories about hunger in Metro Detroit, illiteracy in Detroit and high school dropout issues due to bullying. And that’s just a smattering of their work. They recently covered the Woodward Dream Cruise and reporter Adam Taylor covered the Mackinac Policy Conference in May.
Here’s just a little of their work. You can catch more on YouTube at ynndetroit.
Through this program these young reporters are paving a pathway to success. All the young people who graduated from the program have gone on to higher education or successful careers early in their lives. Nearly 30 students have participated since it began in 2010.
The benefits have been plentiful and these kids are phenomenal. Here are some examples.
YNN Logan Network reporter Moriah Partee started her freshman year at Central Michigan University (CMU) this fall on a full-ride Lem Tucker Journalism Scholarship. She credits her years of experience with the YNN program with helping her win this amazing scholarship.
As a YNN Reporter, Moriah has interviewed Comedian Dave Coulier, Mayor David Bing and has reported on illiteracy in Detroit and high school dropout issues due to bullying. The 18-year-old senior at Cass Tech High School in Detroit has aspirations of being a television reporter and a network news anchor.
“YNN has been such a big part of my life for the past two years,” said Partee. “I am truly grateful for the opportunity and experience. I know that the work I did with YNN helped me win this scholarship and I could not be more excited.”
Ny’Aira Collins was among the first group of YNN reporters who started the Youth Neighborhood New Program in 2010. She is now on the fast track to becoming a super star.
She won first place in “Uplifting Minds” International Competition and was with the pop group “BitterSweet” until she went solo. She co-hosted for “Aunt Jewels Bedtime Stories.” She performs at “Malibu Unplugged” in Malibu, has been on The Jeff Probst Show with Lalah Hathaway, performed as a soloist for “Children Of The Night” fundraiser and has been on Disney, Nickelodeon, ABC, NBC, Lifetime and HBO. Her first single “Dance Like That” is available on iTunes, Amazon and CDBABY.com.
“The YNN program gave Ny’Aira structure and opened the doors of new opportunities in the industry that she could pursue,” said Deborah Johnson, Collins’ manager. “It allowed her to gain knowledge behind the camera while she acquired media savvy in the process of interviewing and meeting celebrities they had the opportunity to meet. The producers were dedicated to the program and the kids. Their time and attention will remain an impact on her life no matter where her life takes her.”
One of our first reporters, a senior at the time, was embarrassed to admit he never thought college was an option. He auditioned for YNN, became a reporter on the team and covered a variety of stories including a summer lunch program for needy children provided by Forgotten Harvest. After his experience, he decided college was an option and enrolled at Wayne County Community College and will soon earn his associates degree in science. Once he graduates from WCCC, he plans to transfer to a university. “Not sure if I will pursue journalism but the YNN experience was great,” he said.
Adrienne Ayars, another early member, is now a senior at Easter Michigan University studying electronic media and film with a double major in social work. She credits YNN for giving her a jump start in the broadcasting world. She is currently working at 89.1 WEMU FM radio station in Ypsilanti and has also started two on-campus radio shows.
“This wouldn’t have been possible without the confidence YNN gave me to get out and create opportunities,” she said. “The things I learned while participating in YNN helped with both of my majors. YNN allowed me to focus on various issues affecting our community that pertain to social work and it also gave me the behind the scenes skills to work with various media outlets that I could not have been taught anywhere else.
“I feel confident in the fact that I know that I’m on my way to success and knowing that I got my start at YNN makes the feeling so much better,” she said.
Another original team member who is still very involved with YNN as an assistant today is Gionni Crawford. He just earned a scholarship to Specs Howard School of Broadcasting and starts the program in the fall. “I am truly grateful to YNN for the opportunity,” said Crawford. “I would never been able to get this kind of experience if it weren’t for this program. I am looking forward to pursuing my career in broadcasting.”
Edward McNeal, who was one of the team’s lead videographers in 2012 and 2013, is heading to Baker College to study both business and videography. “YNN has taught me so much,” said McNeal. “I have learned about writing, interviewing, lighting and videography. It has enabled me to create a portfolio of work before I even got to college.”