The idea of the World Teenage News Takeover project is to encourage news companies around the world to hand over some editorial and creative control to young people sometime during the month of November, even if only for one edition.
The World Teenage News Takeover is a hands-on way to teach today’s youth about both the business and art of the news production process, while simultaneously serving as a community engagement tool and acting as still another occasion to teach newsroom staff about youth. Doing it in many countries within the same month makes the message global: that news publishers actively engage the young in ways that enhance news literacy and that make news staff really listen to the youth voice.
To support participating newspapers, WAN-IFRA has developed a guide based on similar projects publishers have done around the world.
This guide offers the experience of five varied newspapers -- with paid circulations ranging from 25 000 to 175 000 -- that could be useful in planning such an effort. For example, you might want first do a survey first, as did The Belfast Telegraph), or a contest first (The West Australian) or approach local companies to become different levels of partners (Frankfurter Neue Presse).
Or simply write us at firstname.lastname@example.org
THE CASE STUDIES: Australia - The West Australian (175 000), France - L'Humanité (44 000), Germany - Frankfurter Neue Presse (80 000), Norway - Opplad Arbeiderblad (25 000), Belfast Telegraph (48 000).
The 2014 pilot edition: (A report from World News Publishing Focus- The WAN-IFRA magazine)
Several news pubiishers found in 2014 that letting teenagers take over your news operation for a day can be good for them and for their staffs.
“This was a great motivation injection for our staff,” said Anders Nyland, editor of Bergensavisen in Norway, who turned over an entire print edition (circulation 16,464) to 11- to 17-year-olds in observance of the 25th anniversary of the Convention of the Rights of the Child on 20 November.
“I’ve received only positive reactions,” he said. “I think they’re proud that we had the guts to really do it, and I believe they’re surprised at the quality of the stories the kids wrote,” Nyland added. “This is exactly what I hoped for. I wanted them to see that it’s possible to write highly relevant content even if you don’t approach the stories the traditional journalistic way. Those who took an active part, visiting schools and completing the edition at the news desk, told me they had great fun. Last but not least, I wanted to motivate the staff to engage more with young readers. I hope 2015 will show some good results in that department.” –
The paper began working in September with teachers from three local schools involved in news in education (NIE), who guided the students. Other than the overall types of content (news, sports and reviews), “No directions whatsoever came from the paper to the students concerning content,” Nyland said.
“Teachers tell me that the kids were proud of what they did – and had fun at school while working on this project,” he continued. “Kids I’ve talked to myself say they learned a lot from the experience, and they give us credit for believing in them and giving them the opportunity to show and tell a large audience what they believe is important.” AGAIN, NYLAND WILL BE SPEAKING AT THE WAN-IFRA NEWS MEDIA CONFERENCE SET FOR 1-3 JUNE IN WASHINGTON DC. CLICK HERE TO FIND OUT MORE.
Several other publishers took similar actions in 2014, some as part of WAN-IFRA’s World Teenage News Takeover, which challenged them to do so. The idea was to teach today’s youth about the business and art of the news production process, while simultaneously serving as a community engagement tool and providing yet another occasion to teach newsroom staff about youth.
“The goal of this approach was not as a public relations stunt, but to point out that teenagers are far more capable than is too often believed, and to help begin a twoway discussion with newsroom staff,” said Dr. Aralynn McMane, WAN-IFRA Executive Director for Youth Engagement and News Literacy.
Austria’s Kurier (daily circ. 168,040) brought in 13 students for the takeover, starting with the morning meeting to decide the day’s content. “The focus of the project was to give the group of young people the opportunity to actively participate in the day’s developing news stories, ranging from politics to economics to sports,” said Thomas Kralinger, managing director of the Kurier media group.
“It is clear to us that this young generation is quite interested in quality content and in the media business,” said the editor, Helmut Brandstätter. The group made that so obvious, in fact, that Brandstätter decided to do monthly takeovers. Since then every first Wednesday of the month they have done a KURIER „Teenager machen Zeitung“ [Teenagers make a daily] once each month except during summer.
You‘ll find all the pictures and articles of the teenagers here: kurier.at/teens.
The West Australian (Perth, circ. 175,000), one of the inspirations for the global takeover project, repeated the action with 12 students who won a contest (by writing a commentary or letter to the editor or drawing an editorial cartoon) and became “guest editors” for an edition on 20 October, participating in every step of the process. “Be prepared to be surprised: The experience is just as enlightening for the newspaper staff as it is for the guest editors,” said Greta Ambrose of the NIE team.
Assistant Editor Ben Martin agreed, “They were particularly interested in the ethics of news reporting and discussed in detail interaction with sources, the public and readers,” he said. “Some of the discussions and debates were quite forthright, with different points of view being expressed with candour.”
Newspapers participating in the takeover were not all large, nor did editors have to yield a total edition. Kathy Gresey, editor of the daily Kane County Chronicle (Illinois, USA, circ. 12,000 ) let seven students from the staff of the local secondary school’s news magazine choose the topic of the daily web poll, select the editorial cartoon, design the advice page and write a column about the entire experience. An additional participant, aged 10, interviewed the editor.
“I think the experience allowed us to get a better feel for what young people find important in their local newspaper, and it also gave us insight into the skills that young journalists possess. … We’re already looking forward to doing this again next year,” Gresey said.
A long-term takeover operation wins World Young Reader Prize
Germany’s Frankfurter Neue Presse (circ. 60,327) won a 2014 WAN-IFRA World Young Reader Prize in enduring excellence for the annual takeover it has done since 2008. Young people create one entire edition every February. In all, 200 students aged 16 to 22 first take part in a workshop on journalism, then invade six regional offices to do the edition, from initial ideas to the final layout. That activity was one of nearly two dozen initatives