Chicago media veteran will lead youth journalism enrichment program

Kathy Chaney

An Oakland, California-based multimedia enterprise working to help youth build and improve journalism skills reached across 2,000 miles to select its first Midwest Executive Director.

Kathy Chaney, who has served in reporting and management positions at several Chicago news outlets was recently named to lead the newly established Midwest Hub of YR Media (YRM), formerly YR Radio.

Chaney, who was most recently a Chicago Sun-Times deputy managing editor, explained YRM’s focus is on helping 14-24 year olds from underserved communities hone and enhance skills in the digital, audio, broadcast, and print arenas, as well as disrupt the coverage in mainstream media. A former producer at WVON Radio, Chaney brings a wealth of journalism experience, including previous work in helping young Chicagoans develop their news reporting skills.

During her time in 2008 at True Star, a Chicago-based youth journalism platform, she taught middle school and high school students.

“I also helped them produce True Star Magazine which was distributed throughout the Chicago Public Schools system,” Chaney added. Besides teaching she served on the True Star board of directors.

In a career that spans two decades, the Julian High School grad has racked up a long list of accolades and awards, including the George Polk Award, Cook County Crime Stoppers Media Award, Studs Terkel Award, and the National Newspaper Publishers Messenger Award for Breaking News.

Chaney insists moving back into the education realm doesn’t diminish her interaction with hard news. “I am a newshound and I want to make sure what is important to the (Black and Latino) community is covered. We want to make sure that when they (the students) are brought on they report the news that helps enhance our national coverage.”

According to Chaney, YRM is expanding because it has not always been able to cover national stories on a regular basis-especially if they were outside of the Oakland/San Francisco area. “We want to make sure we are part of peeling the artichoke, and will especially try to give it (news) through the lens of the demographic they cover.”

She said the young people have a passion for many of the news stories we see every day, and YRM will give them the opportunity to express that passion.

In her executive producer capacity, the former Chicago Defender reporter and WBEZ producer will direct operations that will include a team of youth reporters from Chicago, Detroit, Milwaukee and Indianapolis. She noted it still is being determined if other cities will be added.

YRM, is an acclaimed nonprofit youth media arts organization that reaches millions across the country with award-winning content. YR Media’s unique model both educates young people in an intensive afterschool program offering media and arts education, then employs and compensates youth in different areas of the organization based on their interests,YRM CEO Kyra Kyles explained.

Kyles is a Chicago native and is the former editor-in-chief and vice president of digital operations for the Ebony and Jet Magazine brands.” I am absolutely thrilled to welcome a consummate journalist, youth mentor, advocate and media leader to the talented team at YR Media,” Kyles said.

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