The community newspaper What’s Good in the Hood (WGITH) was originally borne out of frustration. Gladys Giatu felt the local news placed undue emphasis on violent tragedy. She was fed-up with sensationalist, crime-centric broadcast and print-media reports that cast her native town of Lawrence, Massachussetts in a negative light.
She decided to correct this imbalance by starting a community newspaper—one that would instead tell Lawrence residents the story of their own inspiration, redemption, and positive action. Gitau won start-up funding and received guidance through Ashoka’s Youth Venture program, which helped usher WGITH into reality. Now, a few years later, the WGITH team of local high-school students is successfully working to foster a new journalistic paradigm with positive, inspiring stories as its primary focus.
WGITH recently won a competition sponsored by Storytellers for Good, giving this Ashoka-sponsored Youth Venture the opportunity to be featured in a short documentary film:
The newspaper is run by a small team of writers, editors, photographers, emergent bloggers, and social-media gurus—all of whom are young community-journalists from various senior-high schools throughout Lawrence.
The reporting in WGITH emphasizes experiences of young residents in Lawrence that the mainstream news-media organizations tend to overlook. WGITH shines a light on how teens are participating in, and improving, their world. At the same time, these stories are written to activate awareness and inspire other youth with concerted calls-to-action.
A close-knit bunch of social entrepreneurs and community leaders fund the print publication of WGITH with advertising funds from local businesses, and they hand-distribute hard copies of the newsletter themselves.
Storytellers for Good, the organization that produced the mini-documentary about WGITH, serves a similar function, although its reach is universal. And like WGITH, it was also founded by a young woman: formerly Boston-based broadcast journalist and Princeton graduate Cara Jones.
After a decade of first-hand experience in the news-media industry, Jones reached a breaking point and realized that she could no longer continue sharing a message of suffering and tragedy. Storytellers for Good, comprised of compassionate news-journalists, is her antidote to the dominant media paradigms that only tell half the story.
She and her team travel around the world in search of changemakers and their organizations, so that they may contribute a positively-oriented narrative thread to documentation of contemporary cultures.
Congratulations to What’s Good in the Hood for being featured in a Storytellers for Good mini-documentary!
The end result shares a powerful tale of young people courageously being the change they wish to see in the world.