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WTTW News and Free Spirit Media Announce Partnership

WTTW News producers mentor young media producers; video projects to be showcased on and on Chicago Tonight

For immediate release
Chicago, IL - January 7, 2020

WTTW News today announced a partnership with Free Spirit Media’s teen media education program, designed to give the organization’s young participants feedback and a showcase for their work while providing them with valuable exposure to the industry.

The partnership will be featured on Wednesday, January 8 when WTTW’s nightly newsmagazine Chicago Tonight and will premiere JCS Fund of the DuPage Foundation Arts Correspondent Angel Idowu’s behind-the-scenes look at the making of the four final projects from one of Free Spirit’s fall semester programs. In addition to the television broadcast, the digital story on will include links to the projects. The next night, Thursday, January 9, one of the projects will be showcased on Chicago Tonight in its entirety.

In preparation, over the past four months WTTW News producers worked with young people (aged 14 to 18) participating in Free Spirit South’s teen media education program at the Gary Comer Youth Center in the Grand Crossing neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago. Their projects were created under the direction of program instructors Sarah Oberholtzer and Ricardo Segura, who were instrumental in facilitating and maintaining the partnership with WTTW.

Free Spirit’s young producers also visited the WTTW studios to experience a live broadcast of Chicago Tonight and meet with WTTW staff members. Idowu and WTTW News Supervising Producer Jay Smith provided guidance and notes on their projects, and WTTW camera operator Felix Mendez shared his experience about some of the technical and artistic aspects of his job.

“It’s great to get the creativity, fresh ideas, and unique perspectives these young people bring to the work they’re doing,” said Smith. “While we may provide some feedback for their projects, we get just as much back from interacting with and listening to them.”

“Free Spirit Media believes deeply in the power of public media, which aligns with our mission of promoting media access, opportunity, and diversity of voice,” said Jeff McCarter, founder and executive director of Free Spirit Media. “We are grateful to partner with WTTW News to expose our students to television and digital journalists, and to further the reach of our students' stories.”

The partnership will continue in January as a new group of young Free Spirit Media producers enter the program.

– WTTW –

About WTTW
WTTW is the PBS member station in Chicago, committed to creating and presenting unique media content across distinct television and digital channels – WTTW11, WTTW Prime, WTTW Create/WTTW World, WTTW PBS Kids 24/7, and the PBS/WTTW video app. Recognized for award-winning journalism and local productions such as Chicago Tonight, Chicago River Tour, Check, Please!, digital-first series Chefs Off the Clock, the original Urban Nature, and Foodphiles and national productions 10 that Changed America and Nature Cat, WTTW presents the very best in public affairs, arts and culture, nature and science, history and documentary, and children’s public media content. Connect with WTTW on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.

About Free Spirit Media

Free Spirit Media transforms media and society by providing opportunities for emerging creators, primarily from communities of color, to produce and distribute original content and to pursue artistic, personal and professional aspirations. Free Spirit Media serves participants ages 14-25 and offers a range of media education and production programs where young people can progress from novice media makers to industry professionals. Connect with Free Spirit Media on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and at