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Video-On-Demand Show Opens ‘Window’ for Ethnic and Youth Media

'New America Now' Launches on Comcast ‘OnDemand’ Service

New America Media, Event Report, Peter Micek Posted: Dec 20, 2006

SAN FRANCISCO -- More and more young people today carry shrapnel in their bodies. Unlike the soldiers returning from Iraq, though, Bay Area youth shot on the streets do not often tell their stories in major media outlets.

A playful punch to the arm, courtesy of his boss, brought 15-year-old intern Young Napz’s story of survival to the surface, and ended up on “New America Now,” premiering on cable, entertainment and communications provider Comcast’s video-on-demand network OnDemand. Photo Gallery of Launch Event

comcast panel and crowdA partnership between Comcast and the ethnic and youth media association New America Media, where the young man worked, the program showcases Napz’s story in the “Got Shot” segment, one of three now available to 2.6 million viewers.

"This unique program brings to you the stories of people making news in America," says Lorena Hernandez, Comcast's Director of Communications in the Bay Area. OnDemand offers the program allows viewers to see it anytime they want. Subscribers scroll through a library of available programs, from movie channels to children’s programming, with their remote controls. The “Bay Local” section has a listing for New America Media, which previewed the first program at its San Francisco headquarters on Thursday, Dec. 14.

crowdSeveral five to seven minute segments appear on each monthly show. Viewers “step into the story,” said NAM director Close, without necessarily being led through the narrative by reporters or anchorpersons.

A panel of ethnic and youth media representatives commented on how this new program will give them another platform for greater collaboration with each other.

“We feel confident working with New America Media,” said Regina Reyes, North American News Bureau Chief for ABS-CBN Global broadcasting corporation. The Filipino station launched in 2002 in the United States, she said. “There was apprehension within the company about whether we would be able to sustain it,” she said. We started with a weekly program but “fortunately, with the help of Filipino Americans" she said, we have a daily newscast of interest to Filipino Americans. Some of those stories come from New America Media, she said.

“We don’t know about the narrative of other ethnic communities,” said Jamal Dajani, Director of Middle East Programming at San Francisco-based world news and culture channel Link TV. “This platform creates an exchange of ideas, a window,” he said. It gives the opportunity to “get other communities behind the issues you feel passionate about.”

kevin weston and panelYouth take advantage of new platforms for publishing.

“Young people can drive storytelling,” says Kevin Weston, the boss who lightly punched Young Napz and found a story beneath his bullet wound. As Executive Producer of YO! Multimedia, an arm of New America Media with its own television show, magazine and online content, Weston called Napz’s story “Got Shot”. It highlights the increasing number of young people living with bullet wounds and bullets still lodged inside them. YO also helped create “Taxi Terror,” another segment on the new show, which describes Arab-American cabdrivers and the discrimination they face. Weston said that one Southern California cabdriver's passenger peed in his cab, calling the Pakistani driver an "Iranian."

sandy close and crowd“Those two stories illustrate what can happen when you use youth media, and let them develop their ideas in video,” Weston said. He anticipates collaborating on the new video-on-demand program. “The idea that you can have partners is central to what we do now,” he said. This more collective way of telling stories, Close says, yielded a piece on Chinese medicine as a joint reporting project between the San Francisco Chronicle and New America Media.

The OnDemand service provides a good home to the new show, says Comcast’s Hernandez. The “extremely popular” service debuted in 2004, she says. Ethnic programming in the OnDemand lineup includes Filipino and Spanish-language channels. Broadcast in English, the multicultural “New America Now” targets the mainstream, Hernandez says. In bringing the voices and views of diverse America, she points out that “this show is unique."

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