Why the Kids are All Right — Teenage Stories of Helping from the Pandemic Front Line also Help the Reporters

Teen journalists wrote more than 60 stories featured in three World Teenage Reporting Project showcases.

Creating a video for tight-space exercise, inventing a robot to help caregivers and showing how to help older adults are just some of the ways teenagers are helping create solutions during the Coronavirus pandemic.

These and more than two dozen other stories, accessible as of 4 May, represent the first phase of the World Teenage Reporting Project >COVID 19, organized by Global Youth & News Media.

The goal is to combat the prevailing image these days of teenagers as either careless beach frolickers who bring the virus home or as bored couch-sitters who think about only themselves.

Since mid April, the assignment to teenage journalists in 16 countries has been to cover the untold stories of how their peers are helping both potential and current victims of the virus and their caregivers. The project will continue “until it’s not needed anymore.”

So far, top contributors are The Global Times at Amity International School in New Delhi, India, The Young Post at South China Morning Post in Hong Kong and The Eagle Eye of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland (Florida), USA, where 17 students and staff were killed by a teenage shooter in 2018, along with YOCee.in of Chennai, India, and The Lion Online of Lyons Township High School (Illinois), USA. The main media partner is News Decoder of France.

The stories are a form of solutions journalism that also offers help for the reporters themselves.

“This project helps to highlight the role that youth plays in contributing to society, and in changing the world, “ says Melissa Falkowski, advisor to The Eagle Eye and 2019 National Journalism Teacher of the Year.

Contributing to society is a key element of solutions journalism, which focuses on the responses to problems.

Amity International’s founder, Amita Chauhan, sees an even more ambitious outcome and the project as creating “a unique journalistic primer” to help shape the world post COVID-19.

The benefit is also more immediate. A considerable body of research has found that in a crisis, those who are helping somehow remain in better psychological shape than those who do not.

Revathi R, founder-editor of India’s YOCee.in, says doing the stories “helps reporters look at their peers from a different perspective, encourage them by writing about their work [in a way] that probably would initiate more of their tribe into positive action.”

Similarly, Dara Rosen, editor of The Eagle Eye, sees the project as having “the potential to encourage others to do something positive with their time in quarantine/lockdown.”

Melissa Falkowski concurs and sees an even deeper personal benefit for the reporters: “For student journalists that are stuck at home, this project gives them something to do. In my experience with trauma, having something to do and the ability to write about stories related to the trauma you have experienced or are experiencing can be very healing.”

Teenage journalists in both student-run and adult-run newsrooms can still join the project by contacting globalyouthandnewsmedia [at] gmail.com. The next showcase of stories will go live on 4 June. An edited version of this story appears on LinkedIn.

Based in France, I love to encourage and help news media worldwide to better serve, support and engage young audiences.