Award-winning Chicago journalist and diversity advocate deepens Oakland-based youth media arts outlet’s national footprint
OAKLAND and CHICAGO - September 15, 2020 - YR Media (formerly Youth Radio) is excited to announce the launch of its Midwest regional youth media hub in Chicago, along with the appointment of award-winning Chicago journalist, Kathy Chaney, as leader of the newly formed initiative. Chaney, who most recently served as Deputy Managing Editor, Breaking News and Staff Development for the Chicago Sun-Times, will be responsible for overseeing YR Media’s Midwest editorial operations and provide increased capacity for national daily news content. She will also be tasked with working with YR Media’s youth employees and YR Media’s growing network of paid youth correspondents to increase the frequency and reach of daily content, including stories and opinion pieces, published on the YR.Media platform.
Chaney’s rich experience as an investigative journalist; media executive for both local and national outlets; youth media instructor; and mentor makes her an invaluable addition to Oakland-based YR Media, an acclaimed nonprofit youth media arts organization that reaches millions across the country with award-winning content. YR Media’s unique model both educates young people in an intensive afterschool program offering media and arts education, then employs and compensates youth in different areas of the organization based on their interests. Chaney will place a special focus on unearthing and amplifying current affairs impacting young people in the Midwest, following in the footsteps of current YR Media efforts in the Western region.
Chaney, winner of accolades including the George Polk Award, Cook County Crime Stoppers Media Award, Studs Terkel Award and National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) Messenger Award for Breaking News to name a few, will apply more than 20 years of multimedia experience at outlets including the Chicago Defender, NPR’s Chicago affiliate WBEZ, and a leading role as Managing Editor of Print, EBONY to ensure that diverse perspectives continue to be front and center through the Midwest regional hub, which also will include Michigan and Indiana in its scope.
Additionally, Chaney’s past and current dedication as a mentor for young people through work both as an instructor and board member for True Star Media, as well as an editor for student journalists at the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ), will aid her in connecting to the 14-to-24 year old media education students and youth employees who make YR Media distinct and necessary. This is increasingly mission critical amid a growing call for newsrooms, music labels and technology companies to better reflect their audiences and cultivate BIPOC leaders. Chaney is also a well-known advocate for diversity in media, holding various leadership roles locally and nationally within NABJ, recently being named Vice President-Print for the national organization and also serving as the Editor of its Journal magazine and Roundup newsletter.
Chaney will be reuniting professionally with YR Media’s recently hired CEO Kyra Kyles (also a Chicago native) who worked with Chaney, both when they were fellow board members for NABJ-Chicago and during Kyles’ tenure as Editor-in-Chief and Vice President of Digital Operations for the pioneering EBONY and JET brands.
“I am absolutely thrilled to welcome a consummate journalist, youth mentor, advocate and media leader to the talented team at YR Media,” said Kyra Kyles, CEO of YR Media. “As we continue to ensure that we are amplifying voices at the local and regional levels to complement ongoing in-depth work on the West Coast, Kathy’s deep connections in the Midwest and clear desire to uplift the next generation of young storytellers will make a tremendous difference in our trajectory.”
“Working with, and advocating for, the future leaders of our industry has been a constant focus throughout my career, particularly when it comes to diversity,” Chaney said. “I am honored to join the ranks of an organization that has made such a visible difference in who gets to have their voices heard and is authentic in their collaborations with young people.”
About YR Media
YR Media, formerly Youth Radio, is an award-winning national network of diverse young journalists and artists from underrepresented communities who create content for this generation. Headquartered in downtown Oakland, California with content hubs in the West and Midwest, our non-profit has spent 25 years helping future generations build crucial skills in journalism, arts and media. We produce journalism, music, graphic design, podcasts and documentaries that disrupt and shape the mainstream narrative.