Politickin' (pt. 1) -- Creative Media & Political Coverage for Y.A.'s
By Jaylin Paschal
Creative Liberation is branded as having a focus on hip hop, culture and politics. Finally, I've decided to take a media-studies approach to my passion for connecting culture and politics in a series of blog posts titled "Politickin.'" Essentially, Politickin' will explore political coverage geared towards young adults. "Fake news," clickbait, citizen reporting via social media, alladat. Moreover, it will discuss how the intersections of culture and politics are covered by the mainstream. Versus how they should be. Anyways, here's part one.
In times of political tension and turmoil (like now), the way we inform young people matters more than ever. We have to gather stories that tell both a cultural and political story to better capture where exactly we are as a nation; as a people.
And as much as journalism is about the now, it's not about the now. Journalism is about history; about creating an archive, or a record saying "We were here. This is what we did. This is what we thought."
But in the meantime, creative media and content is needed to capture the interests of young adults and activate them into citizenship. And for that purpose, traditional media has failed us.
Today's youth mostly exists in multiple forms of several subcultures. Covering the cultural niches of society from a political standpoint is now a journalistic responsibility. It's something that has to be done without tokenism, sensationalism, censorship or white-washing.
When it comes to political news, it's imperative that we, as storytellers, diversify our content mix as to tell the whole story, which cannot be told without the niche-stories. Certain layouts, mediums and forums tell you what others cannot. Use infographics, use video, use photojournalism, or whatever other element of media on the periodic table of content marketing that gets the job done. This is largely where the creativity comes in, implying that curating a political archive is not only about the story you tell, but how you decide to tell it.
Today, that exists by creating engaging content, like rapper Killer Mike interviewing then-presidential-candidate Bernie Sanders inside of a black barbershop. It's unexpected, but also somehow completely logical. It makes all the sense in the world to someone who's both culturally literate and politically charged--the under-stimulated demographic which we're targeting. It's about connecting those two worlds, which has really been my "media goal" since the beginning of Creative Liberation. How do you get the hip hop head to care about the healthcare bill? How do you get the politico to care about 4:44? How do you make it fresh, interesting and modern without making it gimmicky, without ever being dishonest?
Vice Media is onto something, with their media empire producing cutting-edge, viral content everyday through several different platforms. "The challenge for journalists is to get people interested in important stories," Time's Fareed Zakaria said. "Vice found a way to do that by mixing classic reporting with attitude, humor, and verve."
But I still think we could do better. More engaging, more personal, more multi-dimensional, more honest. The question surrounding Vice now is of it's longevity. Its 20+ year media run suggests stability, but Wired's Jason Parham made a solid point regarding Vice's often edgy, controversial content: "with Viceland’s reported meager ratings, will any of it matter if no one is watching." We need more reach. We have to become the mainstream.
We have to tackle storytelling in an intimate, personal manner that will truly document the Trump era in way which is raw, emotional and honest. We have to tell the truth. The whole truth. Nothing but the truth. What we saw, what we did, what we thought. And we have to tell it in as many different ways as we can. To do this, we have to take a very human approach to topics that are usually only covered in the mainstream in complex statistical tongues, political jargon or propagandist bullshit. We have to cover the niches. (Truck driver is the most popular job title in America. No one ever asks truck drivers what they think about the economy or job creation. A niche that needs coverage.) And although the focus may be on all of the societal "niches" that need coverage, it's also important to remember that, as Joel Stein wrote for Time, "partly because of the Internet, subcultures no longer seem quite so sub-." Essentially, all of these stories compose one large, human story. Make the connections where they matter.
That's what I'm trying to figure out how to do with this series, with this platform, with this life--how to tell the truth. How to really tell the truth.