The Under Age
If I were to tell you that of the Age's many writers, twelve of them were high school students, what would you think? Of course this wouldn't be strictly correct, but the next closest thing is!
On 26 March 2012, Express Media announced the newest group of reporters for The Under Age (new window) , a hard news outlet written entirely by some of Australia's youngest journalists: high school students.
Working in tandem with the youth and education departments of the Age newspaper, The Under Age was started by Express Media in early 2011, and to say that it has been a huge twelve months for them would be a huge understatement.
Since its inception the site has received 11,000 hits on 80 different news stories, with 45 hours of writing development and mentorship per student received. Issues covered were wide and varied across many genres, including conventional news, science, and sport. Some topics covered in 2011 include the nursing strikes, the Occupy Melbourne movement and even an exposé on the iPhone.
The blurb of the site captures the Under Age's vision: "a dozen high school journalists [who] can't, drink, drive or vote", but who can write brilliantly and share incredible opinions on a vast range of topics.
In 2012 the young writers are educating not only other young people, but the wider community on a variety of issues such as the Gonski Report into school education and the Kony 2012 phenomenon. One of their reporters, Luke Dundon, has covered controversial issues from Prime Minister Julia Gillard's refusal to curtsey for the Queen to American rapper Eminem's ability to sell out a tour in thirty minutes. Keen-eyed youthcentral readers will be aware that Luke also writes for youthcentral [check out Luke's profile here - ed].
I spoke to Luke after the launch of the program's second year. He gave me some insight into how he came into his role as a young reporter for the site.
Over 300 people applied for the twelve spots, and Luke was one of the lucky applicants. Looking at his previous work, though, luck clearly had nothing to do with it. He, like each of the other journalists, has obvious talent and a flair for writing.
A passion for journalism and writing is obvious amongst the group of young people. One of the young writers presenting at the launch, Bethan Williamson, articulated this aptly in her speech, claiming that the group weren't playing Words With Friends - rather, they were "friends with words".
In short, the premise of The Under Age alone is exciting. When you actually meet the faces behind it, you understand fully just how important this program is. In a time of uncertainty in terms of careers in the media, any experience gained puts you one step ahead of the pack of people vying for a place in this competitive market.
Articles Written by Fletcher
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