Youth-Led “The New Normal” Journalism Series Highlights How COVID-19 Shifted Young People’s Lives, Education and Employment in California

12-Part Multimedia Project Amplifies Underrepresented Voices, Launches on April 26, 2022

OAKLAND, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–#YRMedia–Is it over yet? More than two years since we first learned the term COVID-19, we’re just starting to see some relief. The stay-at-home orders are over. The mask mandates are almost non-existent. But do we even remember how to socialize? Are we experiencing anxiety about spending extended time with friends?

The New Normal, launching April 26, 2022, tells the individual stories of young people in California, through a collaboration between Boyle Heights Beat, VoiceWaves, The kNOw and YR Media that focuses on how they were impacted by the pandemic, what has changed for them and how they are moving forward.

This California Youth Media Network project was produced by a team of journalists ranging in age from 16 to 24 who hail from Fresno, Los Angeles, Long Beach and Oakland. The 12-part series highlights stories including:

  • “Zero Social Skills After COVID-19”

    Social skills have been obliterated; depression and anxiety is everywhere; people are exhausted hanging out with people after an hour. An 18-year-old high school senior in Fresno talks to his peers trying to regain their ability to connect with each other.
  • “Working in Retail: Miss Me with that Job”

    A 21-year-old college student in San Francisco reports on how she and others became part of the Great Resignation. In the wake of the pandemic and re-examining work, some young adults found the money earned from retail jobs just wasn’t worth sacrificing their mental health.
  • “Long Beach School Safety Officer Presence Leaves Students Feeling Intimidated, Questions ‘Safety’”​​​

    School safety officers aren’t the same as police, but to some students it’s hard to tell the difference. They hope schools take different approaches to addressing safety.
  • VIDEO: Identity Shift: With a lot of time to reflect, folks felt a shift in their identity during COVID shelter-in-place orders — with many exploring different genders and sexualities. As a result, young people had life-changing realizations about being transgender, nonbinary, queer, bisexual and more.

“It’s always awesome to hear, read and see stories from young people,” said Nykeya Woods, YR Media editor, producer and project manager for ‘The New Normal.’ “Our stories document how we continue to move forward and respond to COVID-19 existence and to keep going. All of us at YR Media are thrilled to offer a platform where they feel comfortable enough to share their experiences.”

“YR Media is so grateful for this partnership which allows us to amplify the voices of so many in their teens and twenties from across California,” said Kyra Kyles, CEO of YR Media. “This collaboration between Boyle Heights Beat, VoiceWaves, and The kNOw spotlights a dimension of life under COVID-19 that the mainstream media often bypasses, particularly as it pertains to young people of color or who are LGBTQ+. The powerful storytelling and perspective of ‘The New Normal’ adds so much vital perspective to the narrative landscape.”

“The New Normal” launches on April 26, 2022, at Funding for “The New Normal” was provided by The California Endowment. For more information about YR Media, please visit

About YR Media

YR Media, formerly Youth Radio, is an award-winning leading media, technology and music training center and platform for emerging BIPOC content creators who are using their voices to change the world. Headquartered in downtown Oakland, California, with national footprint and a hub in the Midwest, the non-profit has spent nearly 30 years helping future generations build crucial skills in journalism and multimedia content. It produces journalism, music, graphic design, podcasts and documentaries that disrupt and shape the mainstream narrative. For more information, please visit

About The California Youth Media Network

The California Youth Media Network is a robust network, built over more than a decade, of youth-driven community journalism hubs around the state of California. Network groups work together to build youth skills and leadership, raise the visibility of youth voice statewide, bring more voices into high-profile media outlets that can influence policy, convene regularly to share best practices in media production, and build coalitions and impact.


Heath Meyer


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