Editor's note: Every year the British Columbia Yukon and Community Newspaper Association in conjunction with the B.C. Press Council has a high school scholarship essay writing contest for graduating Grade 12 students. Coast Reporter received several excellent essays and selected Jessie Lund from Elphinstone as our submission to the contest. Jessie's entry was not selected among the top three from BCY, but Coast Reporter presented her with an award of appreciation last week. Here is her entry.
Teenagers are all about enthusiasm, but when we glance at the cover of the average newspaper, our eyes glaze over: the issues are foreign to us. The articles address fears and concerns of adults - stocks, houses, taxes and Harper's new fiscal plan. The language used is complicated and flourished and quickly loses our attention. This is not a question of literacy or intelligence; we need articles that involve us, captivate us and draw us in.
My proposal is an additional seven pages of newsprint devoted to youth. Seven pages, but how? Time to put on your thinking caps and travel back to the Age of the Teenager!
Page one - youth news. We feel isolated and disconnected from the adult world. We need access to current news that affects our lifestyle: cuts to education or new restrictions on driving ages. These articles need to be written in a light and casual tone, with less detail and more direct explanation of the consequences (whether positive or negative). For a brilliant example of a writing style that is light, informative and easy to understand, see the American magazine Mental Floss.
Page two - youth above. Youth seldom receive positive recognition from the daily news. So let's change that. This page is completely devoted to accomplished youth, whether receiving awards or making a difference. But let's make the interviews fun. Ask some quirky questions; get to know the person behind the medal. Insert text boxes with their favourite iPod tunes or the pizza toppings or hot date of their dreams. The purpose of this article is to inspire as well as entertain.
Page three - the nerd word. This one's for the science fanatics (who happen to be my closest friends). It's an article devoted to a wacky discovery, invention or technology, beneficial to us or not, like the scientists in Japan who are developing a real life "invisibility cloak." After all, who wouldn't enjoy reading about bizarre and magical things while learning something scientific at the same time? Keep in mind knowing random facts in great detail makes us feel strong and powerful.
Pages four and five - hullabaloo (synonym for controversy). As mentioned before, youth are all about enthusiasm. Give us a controversial topic, and, as most parents know, we can't help but argue our point. Here, a journalist writes about a controversial issue related to teenagers - anything from texting to allowing soccer players to wear hijabs to contemplating the age of consent - will spark a fiery argument. Have youth write in their opinions to be published in the next article. Some less serious articles could be intentionally written from a strong bias to encourage the ultimate debate.
Page six - a fun page. A little something to relieve stress. Sudoku, word puzzles, comic strips and wacky facts are the perfect reason for neglecting homework.
Page seven - art smarts. This article encourages youth to become involved through self-expression. Here, poetry, short stories, songs, photos and other art forms can be submitted by youth to be published and shared with others. Once this page develops, editors could choose a weekly theme to encourage inspiration.
How do you capture teenage enthusiasm? These seven pages are the beginning of success. Encourage, inspire, express. We're craving a chance to exercise our minds. What are you waiting for?