Why Public Media Matters for Gen Z and Vice Versa
July 14, 2020
“It’s hard to think of a more important audience than kids who are developing their sense of self and their connections to their communities all in this fairly messy and quickly evolving media landscape.” – Michael Preston
Even before the massive disruptions that have now defined 2020, public media leaders were expressing a growing urgency to address the many and diverse needs of youth audiences, who today have more options at their fingertips than ever before within an overwhelming media landscape. Tweens and teens rely on digital and networked media to learn, play, create, and stay connected with each other. Where does public media fit in? And can public media play a unique and consequential role in cultivating the future generation of our nation’s leaders, by engaging and empowering them as they are beginning to develop their own sense of self? How can we build the capacity of public media organizations in local communities to support a wide range of youth-centered activities including creativity, communication, civic participation, learning, and play?
In the latest episode of the 30,000 Hours podcast, Cooney Center Senior Fellow Monica Bulger and Executive Director Michael Preston discuss By/With/For Youth: Inspiring Next Gen Public Media Audiences, our collaboration with the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to explore the future of public media for young audiences.
With the Next Gen Public Media project, the Cooney Center will conduct research on youth media practices—including the creation of media by, with, and for tweens and—while exploring opportunities for public media to define a vision to engage young audiences. Our project team includes Mary Madden and Monica Bulger, veteran youth and media researchers who are examining the many ways young people currently engage with media to get a better understanding of what they are doing, what they are learning, and what they’re looking for. Rafi Santo has already begun working directly with public media organizations to learn more about their current practices with young audiences. Through this project, we hope to surface practices and opportunities that public media have not yet tapped and to find innovative strategies to better engage tweens and teens.