March 8, 2011 - 5:30 am
By Mignon Clyburn | Commissioner

Spending two days in New York City can be exhausting. I had a number of meetings with mega news organizations and their executives in order to discuss the ever-changing media landscape, which continues to modify the way we view and access news content. Do you peruse the headlines on your blackberry while riding the subway, or do you prefer the feel of an actual newspaper? Do you listen to podcasts of Charlie Rose while working out or do you watch him interview his guests while sitting on your couch? Media companies are dying to know the answers to these questions as they continue to simultaneously innovate and study consumer habits, making this a fascinating time to have an eye on the industry. I greatly enjoyed learning about the myriad new approaches being used to deliver content to the innumerable devices we now carry, and I look forward to watching how future trends will form.

But the highlight of my time by far was my visit to People’s Production House. PPH is a non-profit that educates students in how to effectively conduct televised interviews and instills general production skills. Additionally, PPH serves as a type of tutor and information resource for individuals looking to develop plenary and basic computer literacy skills and the knowledge necessary to access all that the world wide web has to offer.

Talking to PPH’s employees infused me with a great deal of inspiration, as they’re truly on the front lines in the effort to bridge the digital divide and bring lower-income and non-English speaking individuals onto the web in order to make their lives easier. From the student who can fulfill his research needs from the click of a mouse in a public library, to the woman who can document her employer’s poor working conditions via her palm-sized camcorder, PPH offers instructional DVDs and literature intended to make the often-intimidating first step to Internet use dramatically less so. Throughout America, and especially in New York, minority and less-fortunate citizens are far behind in terms of harnessing and capitalizing on all the web has to offer, and I applaud PPH for its tireless efforts to hold the hands of motivated New Yorkers who are eager to explore the world.

Another aspect of PPH’s good work involves training deserving young people and individuals to be reporters and budding journalists. I observed a class in which students worked with Carlos Pareja, PPH’s Trainings and Policy Director and one of the incredible minds behind the operation, on videography, camera placement, and interviewing skills. Watching the genuine delight in the eyes of the students invigorated me, as it’s an incredible thing to see young people motivated to learn a trade and hone their skills.

I cannot wait to return to People’s Production House to see how the students have progressed. PPH is a shining star in the computer adoption and literacy world, and I applaud its staff for their hard work and the vital inspiration they provide.