The history of the Young Reporter scheme
Updated: Oct 2, 2019
Working in journalism has opened up a wealth of opportunities for me, which would not have been available had I not followed in this profession. I have met many people along the way and it has made me appreciate that, if you are prepared to listen, everyone has a story to tell.
With this in mind, I wrote the template for the Young Reporter Scheme and launched it to Newsquest as a pilot scheme in 2008, enabling students to experience life in the media, working for a real live newspaper.
Initially the idea was met with horror by the editor, who saw a catastrophic situation where students would run riot, writing articles with no consideration for the truth and we would quickly be involved with libel suits. At the time I had no idea whether this scheme would be successful but within a short time, schools were contacting me, asking to be included. We completed the year with no journalistic casualties and further schools decided to join up for the following year.
Lisa Thefaut, from the Ursuline High School, Wimbledon was very pleased to be asked to be the pilot school for this brilliant scheme. She said: “The Young Journalist Project provides our students with a great opportunity to develop their writing and research skills and gain a real insight into careers in Journalism.
“It is an invaluable experience that enriches their personal statements for university applications and their future CVs.”
As a journalist, I am always impressed by the work that students produce in conjunction with heavy school timetables. They write their articles with vigour and enthusiasm and it is a real pleasure to read them. Some of them have gone to extreme lengths to get interviews, quotes and photographs and some have reached audiences that we might not have heard about without their passion.
It was always my intention to push the scheme out to areas of the world, where students less fortunate would also get this opportunity. In 2014 we took the scheme to Africa and worked with students in The Gambia and Tanzania. Some of these students faced extreme hardships on a day to day basis. It was a humbling experience to be involved with these students and witness them strive to complete the scheme, despite limited access to the internet.
This year for the second year running, we ran the theatre project and students were able to compete for tickets to see and report on the shows.
Helen Tovey from the Unicorn Theatre, said: “We were very pleased to be part of this scheme and look forward to inviting many more young people to review our shows in the future.”
All the theatres generously offered two complimentary tickets to our young reporters and in some instances, allowed them to meet the cast.
Rachel Pottle, Press and Marketing Officer at the Queen’s Theatre, Hornchurch, said: “We enjoyed welcoming young people through our doors as part of the Young Reporter Scheme, to review a variety of our productions; the quality of writing was wonderful!”
In addition to the theatre opportunities, one lucky student Shruti Thatikonda from Newstead Wood, competed against other students to win the opportunity to interview Reggie Yates, the British actor and television presenter.
Thatikonda said: “The opportunity to interview Reggie Yates was exciting and a great learning opportunity for me. I built up a lot of interview skills and really enjoyed speaking to Reggie, and am very grateful to Young Reporters for the opportunity.”
This scheme is an amazing opening for students to showcase their work to the general public, on a real live online news platform. What better way to broaden their horizons, take them out of their comfort zones and build their confidence as young reporters.
Although fairly tough and uncompromising, the benefits of the scheme are enormous. It is unique and requires good time management but for those that succeed there is nothing out there to compare.
To take part please get in touch - firstname.lastname@example.org
Journalist and Schools’ Coordinator