Like many journalists today my career started in high school writing for the school newspaper. I recalled working on the newspaper when, on a trip to Ecuador, I met with a group of teens, who wrote for the community newspaper about topics that were important to them such as teen pregnancy, bullying, tattoos and finding work.
Turns out teen issues are similar with some variations around the world. On this visit, I was in the city of Ambato, the capital of the province of Tungurahua, which is Ecuador’s third-largest city.
At first the teens were hesitant to talk with us. We were a large group, and most of us only spoke English. A translator was needed, too.
As we started asking questions about their writing, they became animated and shared how they chose their topics and conducted the research.
They proudly showed us copies of the newspapers where their articles appeared and talked about a 20-minute program at a radio station in town, where they discuss these topics.
As they shared their stories, their confidence became visible. And it was clear that writing for the newspaper and recording for the radio provided an outlet for their teen angst and ensured that their voices would be heard by parents and community members.
Benin, 16, says: “We start getting to know each other. We spend a lot of time rehearsing and then we interview people – that’s how we get to know what people think.”
“Our first challenge was to lose our fears,” said Pachacuti, 15. “We were afraid to even talk to our peers.”
Hernan, 15, said, “This has been a great experience. I am not afraid, and I like to hang out with my friends.”
Benin shared one more benefit: “It feels cools to see your name in the paper.”
Yep, those are some of the reasons I enjoyed working on my school newspaper.