by Kevin Benoit
Sept 2005 – Here at HarlemLIVE “we gets busy,” figuratively speaking that is. Sure HarlemLIVE is the site you click on to get all the latest news in the community, around the city and around the globe, but inside the office there are tons of stories everyday.
By now if you are checking out the site you know that HarlemLIVE is a youth run online publication. We are an award winning journalism program that includes news articles, investigative stories, opinion pieces, personal essays, poetry, photography and video documentaries. The students organize events, conduct workshops and sit on panels, increasing their networking and public speaking abilities.
HarlemLIVE is a year round program where young adults ages 13-21 volunteer their free time to do something that is positive and fun. Over the course of the summer students come out in packs because of their newly found free time. Schools out leaving students with a void for that mental stimulation that they love and can’t get enough of. HarlemLIVE provides that stimulation for the everyday teen and it also provides them, with something positive to do with their time.
This summer most of the staff has come via Summer Youth Employment. Almost 30 students entered this program at the beginning of July all getting paid to do something fun and exciting. We also accepted another 8-10 students who came in as volunteers making the opening to our summer a very promising one.
Every summer we have our Youth Media Challenge where we split the staff into teams where they compete against each other for prizes and chances to fill up open slots of our executive staff. The students learn everything that we do throughout the year getting a crash course in how to run an online magazine. Usually we have three teams and that is successful but this year after some of the staff members realized that HarlemLIVE was not the organization for them or after we realized that they were not the staff for HarlemLIVE the three teams were broken down to just two. So all summer Keeping It Real Entertainment (KIRE) and Supernova battled head to head. Both teams were lead by long time staff members, KIRE led by Jessica Batson who joined the staff in May and Supernova led by Tracey Casseus who joined the staff in October of 2004. As leaders they learned that taking responsibility for the bad as well as the good is not always fun. They learned how to really run an online publication. We taught them well if I can say so myself.
The teams were put through the regular competition with a few twists and turns along the way and a few improvements to match the new technology in the world. They did the flyer contest-a competition to see who could pas out the most flyers in the least amount of time-they tried to write as much stories as possible, put together the best video, and even developed the best blogs and pod casts,
All the participants can tell you that the competition started out shaky but it ended with a bang. The competition culminated with our annual award ceremony at Bloomberg’s Headquarters. At the ceremony we announce the winning team, we give out awards to individual achievers and we announce the editors for the fall year. This year’s all around best individual achiever was Iyanna Garry. She won awards for best poem, best blogger, best essay and best health story. Steven Martinez was the winner for best story while Troy Robateau was the winner for best video.
The winning team for the competition was Supernova coming off a lackadaisical performance for the first two weeks. Somehow they managed to get their selves back in the competition and in the end they gave their selves a chance to win it all.
The new leaders for the fall and the immediate future were all people who made outstanding contributions throughout the summer. Our new Entertainment Editor, Keisean Marshall, wanted to meet Beyoncé when he joined HarlemLIVE-and he still wants to-but with HarlemLIVE he is so much closer to reaching his goal.
Our new Video Director, Ranale Todman completed two videos over the summer and he showed that he gained the most out of the program and was willing to give the most back into it. Over the summer we somehow got twins on board a pair of outgoing young females from the Bronx. It turned out that they love marketing and after testing them out with on e of our open mics they proved that they are young marketing gurus in the making. Dejinay and Denaira Reid are out new Marketing Directors. Our new Health Editor, Tracey Casseus had been working on developing a template for the health page even before the summer began, but it was her strategy, dependability and ability to follow through that landed her the position. Iyana Garry became our lead writer because when you are that talented you deserve acknowledgement. Since then we have made her editor of the Community section as well as the Life in the City section. It’s only right being that she lives in Brooklyn, works in Manhattan, goes to school in the Bronx and spent all summer doing slideshows on Queens. Our newest Editor In Chief is Jessica Batson the leader for Keeping It Real Entertainment. When she joined in May Richard Calton said that she had potential to be the next leader and his prediction proved to be true. She is also the editor of Current Events and Politics. Mera Beckford is still out Managing Editor because no one can do that job as wonderfully as she can. As for me I have been promoted to Publisher of HarlemLIVE. That just means I am still the dedicated head male here. Look for some changes in these positions soon.
I asked some of the staff members about their feelings toward HarlemLIVE and the summer experience and here’s what they had to say.
Tyrell Carlton, the longest serving member of HarlemLIVE that was placed on a team was the co-leader for team Supernova. He was also on last years winning team, Vertigo. He feels that he is a good luck charm and he is thinking about doing it again next year that way he can have a three-peat and maybe he’ll even be team leader. He says that the most interesting part of HarlemLIVE is “meeting new people and going on interesting stories.”
Jessica Henderson has learned that HarlemLIVE can be bigger than all your expectations. She was the co-leader for Keeping It Real Entertainment and she was a big part to keeping her team focused. “HarlemLIVE is more than I expected. I thought I was going to be a simple journalist. This is more important than I thought. Her greatest experience so far: Meeting Al Sharpton. She asked him if his hair was real.
Jasmine Hamm the youngest staff member this summer is entering freshman year of High School this September. Her growth over the summer was a joy to watch. “I love the experience,” she says. “It provides a lot that will benefit me in my future. I do stories, photography and I’m jumping into video as well.”HarlemLIVE recently did a presentation at the Apple Store. Members of the new look executive staff as well as alumni and members of the Board of Directors all took part in the presentation. The purpose was to inform other people and groups how we use technology and how it has benefited the organization. The presentation was a great experience for all of those involved especially those who hadn’t done much public speaking in the past.
In other news Tracey Casseus, our new health editor is working on our health page. It will soon be added to the HarlemLIVE website. The colors are different and it will standout but it looks very good. The page is being developed by HarlemLIVE alumni Justin Young.
Another breakthrough in the HarlemLIVE office is the monthly open mic series. Back in May we did our first Poetry Slam Series. It lasted a period of four weeks throughout May and June. The response was so huge and the events wee so successful that we had to go on and do another one. The turnout continued to increase so we just had to do it on a recurring basis. So the first Saturday of every month it goes down. Poets, singers, and performers from all over the city come out to perform at our office space.