San Jose youth turn out for Free Speech Day

A San Jose, Calif. television studio invited all citizens to broadcast their stories as part of a Free Speech Day, an open access effort launched by CreaTV. Tonight, those stories will be broadcast to CreaTV’s 150,000 household viewers. What was surprising about Free Speech Days, Executive Director Suzanne St.John-Crane said, is that young people stole the show. “A boy that’s just 10 years old talked about how he thought teachers needed to be paid more,” St. John-Crane said. “Another young girl gave a speech about Rosa Parks. Watching the variety was just so intriguing.” The idea that the public can bring content to the station isn’t new, she says the station has been doing it for 20 years. However, designating Feb. 22 as Free Speech Day helped to bring new public voices into the studio for the first time. “We are reaching out to co-create content,” St.John-Crane said. “We’re reaching out to everyone — high-profile community people, core non-profit organizations — and we’re asking how we can work together.” Tonight at 10:30 p.m. PT, segments lasting three to 10 minutes will explore a variety of issues including the uptake in gang violence as it correlates with layoffs police department. Following the broadcast, each segment will be used as fillers between the regular daily broadcast. CreaTV gave production and on-air training to everyone who participated in Free Speech Days. St. John-Crane says, in addition to this project, they have launched a digital access campaign that gave $500,000 in computers and digital training to 17 schools in San Jose, Calif. Most important to the future of every community, St. John Crane says, is the public voice and the institutions that advance civic engagement. “We’re running with the idea that if we build it, they will come,” St. John-Crane said. “It’s important to reframe those conversations and that’s what we do as a community media center, that’s what we do for the vitality of civic engagement.” By Jenna Buehler, executive assistant/communications at Knight Foundation

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