Wick Communications

Looking for a young edge

In Ideas on September 17, 2015 at 12:45 pm

Screen Shot 2015-09-16 at 9.53.59 AM

So, you say you have enthusiastic and talented high school kids in your area who would like to get some experience? You say you can’t think of anything for them to do that wouldn’t be more trouble than it’s worth?

Take a look at this.

It’s an innovative idea from The Gainesville Times, in Gainesville, Ga. Newspaper editors heard from a half-dozen high school kids who were interested in journalism and looking to get a start before leaving for college J schools. (Disclosure: Twenty years ago, I worked at the Times.)

Metro Editor Shannon Casas says they decided to give the young talent the keys to a website and see what happened.

“We had a number of high school students interested in interning with us this year, and given their sheer number, we decided to let them basically run their own little online newspaper with content by them, for other high school students,” she wrote in an email to me. “That includes articles, photos and videos and whatever else they dream up. They’re coming up with the ideas, executing them and I’m providing some editing and guidance.

“The goal (is) having new stories up at least every Thursday. They’re also running Twitter and Instagram pages, @YoungEdgeGtimes. And we’ve got Times articles that may appeal to high school readers also on the page among their stories,” she said. …

The newspaper benefits from forward-thinking educators in the area. The schools have a work-based learning program and an Honors Mentorship Program, so the seven kids from six different high schools (one headed to Harvard) get class credit for the work.

The result is interesting, upbeat coverage of things that wouldn’t otherwise make it in the paper, such has planning the perfect Homecoming.

Beyond that, it’s our responsibility to engage the next generation of journalists. It’s important. It’s also in our self-interest. I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to see some of these kids return to Gainesville after college and take reporting jobs at The Times.

(Updates to change five schools to six schools involved.)

Clay

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