My work: combating the image of minority communities in mainstream media by training disadvantaged teens in media skills
This profile was prepared when Matthew Johnson was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2001.
The New Idea
Responding to media's role in shaping perceptions of the world, the lack of opportunities for poor urban youth, and the journalistic imbalance affecting popular culture, Matthew Johnson created a forum for young people to express their voice and develop marketable skills that will provide opportunities to take part in the news and communications industry. Matthew contends that disadvantaged teens need an outlet for expression and a way to portray positive images of their communities. He established the framework for a national media and information bureau, staffed and run by young people to foster diversity through mass communications. Participants attend weekly classes and produce original programs and publications. Matthew changes these stereotypes by not only empowering teens with the means to positively represent their diversity, but also by rewarding their commitment to academics, responsibility, and ethical behavior.