Credit: Rebecca L on Flickr, under Creative Commons
(WOMENSENEWS)– Tonight at its annual gala, Women’s eNews will announce a new initiative that is long overdue: News for female teens that is global, interactive and participatory.
I have the honor of serving as the site’s managing editor, a job that takes me back to the very beginning of my career and fast-forwards me into the future.
Teen Voices at Women’s eNews will incorporate teens across the globe in the news gathering process, invite them to take part in video-taped conversations with adult female leaders and partner with teens working with organizations, including a school in Kenya, that know them the best.
This incredible opportunity to inform and connect with teens across the globe was born when the Boston-based organization that published Teen Voices magazine closed its doors last year. Its board entrusted Women’s eNews with its brand and its distribution list and handed the direct-service elements of the organization to WriteBoston (read more about its Teen Voices Rising program here).
I have now come full circle. I can remember the feeling 20 years ago of waiting for my internship interview for Teen Voices. Sitting in the basement of the YMCA on Huntington Ave. in downtown Boston, I was kicking myself for not having read the publication before the interview.
As soon as I started flipping through the magazine nerves gave way to excitement: pictures of real girls, girls that looked like me, in the magazine and essays and poems spoke to the 15-year-old version of my 20-year-old self.
I wanted that job before I even met any of the awesome women on staff there or knew that many of them would be my closest friends two decades later. Now I can name that feeling of having a shared experience with others as validation, but then I didn’t even know something like this existed or that it could become my job, much less my career.
Fast forward to 2014 and I’m thrilled that the words "Teen Voices" are part of my daily vocabulary once again.
Extending Brand’s Reach
As an impact-driven, nonprofit investigative news organization, Women’s eNews has been distributing information and focusing attention on the rights of women and girls around the world since 2000. By taking Teen Voices under its wing, Women’s eNews will extend the brand’s reach to a broader audience, create global networks and change the face and content of journalism about teens.
Through our partnerships with Daraja Academy, iLive2Lead, GlobalGirl Media, SPARK Movement and others, we will harness the energy of amazing groups who have shared missions with Teen Voices. By partnering we can amplify the issue-based work the partners are focused on while providing important news on the realities faced by girls in their programs.
Via our Virtual Newsroom, Teen Voices will hire teen journalists from around the world to be reporters, writers and videographers. Sometimes they will work with Women’s eNews adult journalists, sometimes they will fly solo. But they will always have the support, mentoring, guidance and respect of the professional editorial staff at Women’s eNews.
In addition, as part of the "Seat at the Table" series debuting Thursday, we will host conversations between teens and adult female leaders. These intergenerational events will provide insight into the dynamics of female leadership and give teens a place to be on equal footing with role models.
Right now, young people, especially girls, do not get a chance to represent themselves in the news. Current research isn’t available, but when I ask the teens in the classes that I teach to find a news story that relates to them as teenagers, 9 times out of 10 there is no teen interviewed in the story. (Note to other news media: If you want to attract younger readers, don’t change your content. Change your sources.)
Authentic, Accurate View
By incorporating female teens in the production of news about teens, Teen Voices is providing a more authentic and accurate view of those between 13 and 19 years old. We are also a catalyst for female representation in the news.
In any of the work we publish, Teen Voices will be looking to explore the experiences, perspectives and challenges facing young people. Our job isn’t just to give voice to the voiceless, we want to help young people advocate for themselves and their peers through the power of the news media.
By doing this, we are delivering the nuanced complexities and realities of being a female adolescent to the decision makers, educators, parents, researchers and policymakers who read Women’s eNews. And, for our teen readers, yes, we are validating their voices and experiences, but we are also giving them a place to gain professional job experience and skills. In addition, we are supplying the news, information and context they need to become better advocates for themselves.
It’s definitely an exciting time, and there are many ways you can get involved with Teen
Voices at Women’s eNews. Subscribe to our daily updates: http://womensenews.org/user/register. Follow us on Twitter: @TeenVoices, @KatinaParon. And on Tumblr: http://teenvoiceswenews.tumblr.com. If you are interested in writing for us,
check out our Submissions Guidelines. Potential content partners can reach me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to working with you!
This story is part of Teen Voices at Women’s eNews. In 2013 Women’s eNews retained the 25-year-old magazine Teen Voices to continue and further its mission to improve the world for female teens through media. Teen Voices at Women’s eNews provides online stories and commentary about issues directly affecting female teens around the world, serving as an outlet for young women to share their experiences and views.
Katina Paron is the managing editor of Teen Voices and director of the NYC High School Journalism Collaborative at Baruch College. Follow her at @KatinaParon.
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