Make a "What's My Issue" Video

Mar 18, 2016
Image for issue at Youth Voices

Will you: 

Make a short video (2 minutes or less) that tells a story about how an election issue affects you or your community.

In this KQED video, three high school students at Oakland Tech (Madeline Fonseca, Jacqueline Montes, and Zoram Mercado) describe what inspired them to make a short video about immigration policy.

Make a short video that tells a story about how an election issue affects you or your community.

For this Media Make, KQED is joining forces with their partners at the Bay Area Video Coalition (BAVC) to invite youth to use their smartphones and free online editing software (like WeVideo) to create short videos (2 minutes or less) that respond to this question: What 2016 election issue matters most to you?

As an example of the kind of story they are looking for, watch the video “My Rift,” produced by Oakland Tech high school students Madeline Fonseca, Jacqueline Montes, and Zoram Mercado.

You can see 100 other student videos about the 2016 election here.

Election issues have a direct impact on teens and their communities. That’s why it’s crucial that teens have a say in the political conversation.

How to Make Your WhatsMyIssue Video

Step 1 of 7: Write about an issue that is being debated in this election.

1a. Use to annotate this interactive tour of nine key election issues from KQED’s The Lowdown to get background on the issue, and to see where the two political parties stand.

1b. Decide on one issue that is relevant to your life, or to your community. Which one stands out to you? Are there any issues missing from this list? Choose the one that means the most to you (or choose a "missing" issue) and do a three-part freewrite (with focused sentences) about that issue.

1c. Read your freewriting to two or three other students and get them to tell you what parts are the most interesting or powerful.

1d. Know your facts. Follow the links on KQED's interactive tour of nine key election issues to more articles about one of the issues or search for articles yourself. Find at least two recent articles on the issue from reputable sources that present two different perspectives, and annotate these articles with

1d. Revise your freewriting from 1b, by following this guide: Personal Inquiry.

1e. Proofread and correct your revised piece of writing, then post it on Youth Voices as a discussion.

Step 2 of 7: Decide the story you want to tell about this issue.

Often, the most convincing way to make a point is to speak from personal experience—or share a story about something you have witnessed firsthand.

  • How does the election issue you chose directly affect you, or people you know?
  • What do you wish politicians could know about how that issue impacts you or your community?
  • How can you tell a story that will put a human face on the problem, and help others understand what it feels like to experience it?

Here are some great ideas from about how to develop your “story of self” or the “story of my community.” And there are many more narrative ideas, prompts, and examples in this Youth Voices mission: Indelible Moments, and here's a guide for writing Indelible Moments (from "Little Things are Big")

Then, connect your personal or community story back to the research you’ve done about the issue you are focusing on. Ask yourself:

  • What are some key statistics or facts about this problem that tie your story to what’s happening around the country?
  • Why should a national audience care about your personal or community experience?
  • What is at stake for the country if we don’t address this problem?

Step 3 of 7: Pitch your story idea to classmates, teachers, and mentors.

Get feedback by presenting your idea clearly in 2-3 sentences that get to the heart of the matter. Some questions to answer in your pitch:

  • What is the main message you want to communicate with this video?
  • Who is your target audience? (Your peers? Adults? Politicians?)
  • How can you tell a complete story in 2 minutes or less?
  • What narrative techniques (camera shots, music, sound) will you use to tell your story?
  • How does your personal story relate to a larger national issue?

Here is an example of a pitch statement: “My video is a (personal narrative, profile) about how (person or community) is affected by (election issue). I want this video to be seen by (audience) and show them that (main message). The style I plan to use will include (interviews, animation, voiceover narration, etc.)

Here is a great “pitch worksheet” from our partners at PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs.

3a. What is the headline? Imagine your story is in the top spot on the Student Reporting Labs homepage or on the Youth Voices homepage. Write the headline.

3b. What is the background of the story? Freewrite for 10-15 minutes.

3c. Inquiry Question(s): What central question or two questions do you intend on investigating in your news story?

3d. List the people (the “characters”) in your story and why they are important.

3e. Who do you plan on interviewing and why? What types of information can each potential interviewee provide (facts and statistics, a personal story, the other side of the story)? Make sure that you include youth voices in your story.

3f. Think visually. What is your opening shot? Draw it, then write a description of your drawing.

3g. What b-roll will you need? Don't be afraid to "go crazy" or be wild about what you put on this list.

3h. No really, list more b-roll… What else can you think of?

3i. What images and other visuals do you plan on filming or creating? Will there be animation, a map, graphics?

3j. Do you have an opinion about the issues addressed in the story? Please explain how you will ensure that your point of view does not distort the final story.

3k. Describe how your story will be balanced and show two or more perspectives.

Step 4 of 7: Storyboard your video.

The best way to efficiently make a good video is to plan ahead. Think of what you want viewers to know, and how you want to show it visually and with sound. Draw a picture of each shot that you plan to shoot with your camera. You can just sketch out your ideas, or use an online tool like StoryboardThat. Here are some great storyboarding tips.

Step 5 of 7: Shoot your video.

This is the fun part. But it requires some planning. Here a few helpful tips from KQED: SMARTPHONE VIDEO SHOOTING TIPS.

Step 6 of 7: Edit your video.

Use a free (at first) online editing tool like WeVideo to piece together your story. This is where the real work happens. You don’t have to be fancy — just make sure your story is clear and easy to understand. Here are some basic editing techniques and video tutorials from WeVideo. You can also use Movie Maker with this guide, Movie Maker Workflow.

Step 7 of 7: Give and get feedback on "rough cuts."

7a. Alternative ways to share a “rough cut”:

  • Upload your video to your Google Drive, making it public, then embeding it on a Youth Voices Discussion post. You can follow this "How To" Guide.
  • You can also upload your video to Youtube, Vimeo, or another service, then use the embed code to post that video in a discussion post.
  • Use the Letters to the Next President's Media Makes Hackpad space to post your work and ask for feedback!

7b. Comment on other students' "rough cuts." Find videos listed under "Related posts" in the left column of this page, and use this guide and/or follow the questions listed here.

Here are some good questions to ask:
  • What do you think the story is?
  • What is the main message the maker is trying to get across?
  • Who do you think the intended audience is?
  • What do you notice about the style of the piece?

7c. Go back and make changes to the video and get feedback again. Editing is all about revising until it feels right.

How to Share Your WhatsMyIssue Video

    When you are ready to share it with the world, you have a couple options. But no matter where you put your video Be sure to include #WhatsMyIssue and #2NextPrez:
    • Upload your video to YouTube, Vimeo, or another service.
    • Upload your video to your Google Drive, make it public, then embed it on a Youth Voices Discussion Post. You can follow this "How To" Guide.
    • Post your work on social media so that even more people can see it – just remember to use the #WhatsMyIssue and #2NextPrez hashtags in all your posts so that everybody involved with Letters to the Next President 2.0 can see the action.
    • Use the same guide and questions in 7b (above) to comment on other students' submissions.
  3. Confirm your submission here.

What if: 


BAVC’s Digital Pathways Curriculum

BAVC’s Digital Pathways Video Curriculum is designed to introduce the tools of media production and analysis through creative and socially relevant visual storytelling. Through the creation of two video stories, students complete every phase of filmmaking: storyboarding, directing, shooting, and editing on Final Cut Pro. Our goal is to nurture the talents, skills, and development of young people, and we respect the experience and perspective that each young person brings to the program.

Youth Radio’s DIY Toolkit: Fact-Checking

A basic rundown of how to fact-check your work from our partners at Youth Radio.

PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs Curriculum

The PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs program supports teachers and young people to report on important issues in their community, creating impactful video reports for the national NewsHour audience.

Sign up for the Letters to the Next President 2.0 youth initiative to learn more about upcoming Media Makes.

Work you will have: 

  1. Links to 15-25 annotations on articles on key election issues.
  2. A link to your Youth Voices post that is a revision of your freewriting and that follows the guide: Personal Inquiry.
  3. Links to your publically available "pitch worksheet," your storyboard for the video, and a "rough cut" with comments.
  4. Links to your comments to other students "rough cuts" on Youth Voices.
  5. Link to your final published 2-minute video.