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Access Sacramento is putting together a network of news bureaus in the South Sacramento area. The goal is to get youth to report for their communities, producing news stories about South Sacramento. The effort is based around a website that access Sacramento has set up called accesslocal.tv.
Ron Cooper, executive director of Access Sacramento, said that besides being known for negative news, South Sacramento seems to be absent from the news altogether. He wants to help revitalize the area through empowering the youth to become news reporters and serve them by developing their journalism skills.
“South Sacramento is big area with lots of people and lots of ethnic diversity,” Cooper said. “Stories with positives don’t usually trickle out.”
There are currently five neighborhood news bureau locations. Asian Resources, La Familia, Florin Creek, Pannell Center and Valley Hi-North Laguna Library were selected as the initial locations to host the news bureaus. They were provided with computers, flip cameras and funding for training.
“Young people accept challenges and changes much more readily. That’s always been the case,” said Cooper said. “I like the idea of organizing young people and challenging them to tell the stories of their communities.”
A part of the project is bringing in the technological resources for youth to use. The project is providing computers and cameras to help them report stories. He said that providing the resources and letting youth “play” and experiment will be an important way of developing how the neighborhood news bureaus turn out.
“I’m not launching a five-year plan here. We have some tenets, but it has to be responsive to what we learn along the way,” Cooper said. “Over the next six months, we will gradually widen the sphere and add more neighborhood news bureaus.”
The Sacramento Metropolitan Cable Television Commission provided the initial technological equipment.
“We went to the Sacramento Metro Cable Commission, and they gave the equipment necessary for the initial sites,” Cooper said.
Part of the project is being funded through the California Endowment, which selected South Sacramento as one of 14 neighborhoods across California in need of assistance, said Christine Tien, California Endowment’s Sacramento’s program manager.
“For us, it’s a youth empowerment tool – a good way to generate stories from the youth perspective, especially in the South Sac area,” Tien said. “Currently, the only type of stories coming out of South Sac are crime-related.”
“Part of the grant is for training youth to be community reporters, reporting from their perspective on community issues.” Tien said.
Fong Tran is a youth coordinator at Asian Resources. He works on helping to produce and guide the stories of the young reporters.
“The purpose of the neighborhood news bureaus is to provide an opportunity for grassroots and community organizations to work with youth, and to put out news that comes from the community and the community perspective.” Tran said.
“It’s a chance for, what were marginalized communities, to speak in their own words about events and topics,” Tran said. “It’s a way for youth to get what they want to say out to the mainstream world.”
Access Sacramento is a nonprofit community media organization that provides resources to Sacramento community members to produce independent media. The organization has been producing radio and cable programmes for the last 25 years. The neighborhood news bureaus are the most recent way of engaging the Sacramento community.
To learn more about the neighborhood news bureaus, visit AccessLocal.tv.