New WTTW Partnership with Free Spirit Media Promotes Media Literacy


Helping young people find their voice. That’s one of the goals of Free Spirit Media, a program dedicated to helping Chicago youth learn video production.

For the past few months, WTTW News has been partnering with Free Spirit Media South to mentor students, providing guidance and inspiration for their work.

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In the semester-long program, 16 Chicago high schoolers dedicate after school hours to exploring a new craft. Over the course of a few weeks, we visited students at the Gary Comer Youth Center as they worked on their latest video production projects.

It all began with a brainstorming session for students to flesh out their ideas. With the help of instructors Sarah Oberholtzer and Ricardo Segura, they gathered facts to help shape their stories.

When we returned a few weeks later, topics were set and interviews before the student camera crews had begun. That was a role 11th grader Zachary Webster was eager to take on.

“That’s one thing I’ve learned while in this program,” Webster said. “I’m good at talking to people and making it a conversation, making some type of connection so that the interviewee’s connected and just feels comfortable.”

Zachary Webster talks about the video production skills he’s learned through Free Spirit Media. (WTTW News)Zachary Webster talks about the video production skills he’s learned through Free Spirit Media. (WTTW News)

While Webster conducted the interview, other group members took the roles of videographer, audio technician and director.

Next, students wrote scripts, recorded voice-overs and edited their stories as a team.

“I’m interested in editing because I feel like editing is something you can do to be free with yourself and experiment,” sophomore Bria Gresham said.

As the semester wrapped up, Oberholtzer expressed pride in how the students were able to open their minds to new possibilities.

“I think that’s sometimes what it takes,” Oberholtzer said. “Opening up what our imaginations are to what is possible and introducing new things into the scope of what your life could be.”


More on this story

You can watch each of the projects from Free Spirit Media South below. They include stories about African American hair, pop culture and how slang is used in conversation and music.





Follow Angel Idowu on Twitter: @angelidowu3

Angel Idowu is the JCS Fund of the DuPage Foundation Arts Correspondent.


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