YR Media, a leader in media since 1993, has been nurturing the voices of young creators (ages 14 to 24) alongside the visionary leadership of individuals like CEO Kyra Kyles and the young people involved. At YR Media, young content creators, who are majority BIPOC and from historically underrepresented communities, elevate their voice and build their skills across various media forms, including music, podcasting, design, and interactive media. Below the surface, there’s a culture of co-leadership, ethical storytelling, and practical support that drives industry innovation.

YR Media has become a vital force for innovation in journalism, providing a platform where the next generation leads with conviction and creativity on topics ranging from rising youth leaders to censorship to trends showing up in Gen Z. Their approach to co-leadership and co-creation is a model for equitable access and representation, holding potential to inspire others to reimagine their engagement with young creators.

Young content creators at YR Media
Photo: YR Media

Diversifying journalism isn’t as easy as recruiting young people. YR Media makes sure young content creators are fully equipped with the necessary supports to remove barriers to their participation and creative process. Kyra frames the question as: “How do we get stories [and] perspectives out there without having it be at the expense of the person sharing that story?” YR Media’s strategy includes offering paid opportunities and learning stipends, mental health supports, and tools for developing life skills. YR Media also integrates a trauma-informed approach to storytelling, ensuring that content never comes at the cost of the storyteller’s well-being. This principle is detailed in the organization’s white paper on “Narrative Change and Impact,” highlighting the importance of ethical storytelling practices.

This approach is echoed by the perspectives of young journalists, such as Ariyana Griffin, who attended the recent White House Youth Policy Summit: Cultivating Possibilities. In her blog, “Youth Meet Lawmakers: My Experience At The White House Youth Policy Summit,” she writes, “I was able to highlight topics that are important to me such as HBCUs, loan debt, and mental health in the video, which was shared for policymakers and youth to see at the summit, as well as online.”

YR Media’s alumni have moved on to remarkable achievements, signaling the organization’s profound impact. Initiatives like the organization’s equitable music licensing program mark YR Media as both a launchpad for burgeoning talent and an advocate for industry reform. “What makes me hopeful,” Kyra reflects, “is working with this generation and those to follow. They’re energized, equipped with digital acumen, and ready to confront challenges head-on.”

What makes me hopeful is working with this generation and those to follow. They’re energized, equipped with digital acumen, and ready to confront challenges head-on.

– Kyra Kyles, CEO, YR Media

Kyra also recognizes the challenges that many youth organizations and youth media organizations face. She says: “All organizations are in a challenging time right now, especially media organizations, and news is often taken for granted. But this work is a pipeline to things getting better. By paying young people, they don’t have to choose between practicality and their dreams.” The reach of YR Media extends across the media landscape and the United States; its alumni are not only prominent in media outlets like Vox, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and local radio stations, but they also thrive as entrepreneurs in robotics, traffic management, fashion, and food industries, to name a few. Twenty percent of YR Media staff are former program participants, and many more stay in close connection with the organization long after they’ve departed YR Media.