Give young journalists a global voice

by Youth Journalism International
A group of YJI students in Edinburgh recently.
A group of YJI students in Edinburgh recently.

This is a difficult time for journalists old and young. It’s an especially challenging moment for Youth Journalism International in its quest to empower young writers and photographers to stand up for the principles and values of a profession that’s under fire. They notice when leaders call journalists “scum” and smear individual reporters for doing their job. They see that far too many of the people they respect and love are ready to believe quacks who make up news stories rather than accept the truth that professional journalists work hard to uncover. They know that they’re eyeing a career in a field that is struggling everywhere.

And yet there is still something noble about the mission “to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable” that has driven the best journalists for generations. That idealism can still move people. And the work it produces can still make a difference. So we soldier on, teaching and empowering young people in scores of countries to develop their skills and tell their stories. They learn in the process that their voice matters, that every person, everywhere, has something to say that’s worthwhile. As one of our students, a young woman in Pakistan, put it, “YJI made me realize that I am not made for nothing. Today I know that I AM something.”

We appreciate your willingness to help Youth Journalism International with its crucial work.

Protesting at a Trump rally
Protesting at a Trump rally

Youth Journalism International students have been covering presidential campaigns for two decades. But there's never been one quite like this year's version.

Last winter, one of our students in Iowa, Garret Reich, managed to catch appearances by a host of candidates: Donald Trump, Ben CarsonBernie Sanders, Ted Cruz and Hillary Clinton. She probably deserves a medal for her efforts.

A Connecticut teen, Max Turgeon, has written a couple of opinion pieces weighing in on the race from a Republican perspective. His most recent says that Trump is in trouble, but still deserves GOP support

But perhaps the most dramatic is a first-person essay that Ruth Onyirimba wrote in August after going to a Trump rally with the intention of protesting the Republican nominee. You can read her piece here or, in a first for YJI, you can listen to her read it here.

There are many, many other stories that have nothing to do with the election, of course. YJI students span the globe, writing about an astonishing range of issues, taking pictures and providing a glimpse into the world that young people are going to create. Thank you for helping to make it all possible.



Backing Trump for president
Backing Trump for president
Two YJI reporters interview editor Marty Baron
Two YJI reporters interview editor Marty Baron


With students at The Lawrenceville School
With students at The Lawrenceville School

It’s a great feeling to recognize excellent student work – but it’s really thrilling to do it in person.

Three YJI leaders got the chance to do just that last week when they made trophy presentations to Justice Bennett, named the 2016 Student Journalist of the Year, and to the staff and founders of The Contour, a newspaper at The Lawrenceville School. The Contour staff won the 2016 Courage in Journalism award in YJI’s Excellence in Journalism contest.

Justice collected his prize in front of staff members of The Blackfriar Chronicle at Malvern Preparatory School in Pennsylvania, where he is a graduating senior. Other Malvern students who won awards also were recognized in the special ceremony.

Kate Plows, an energetic and encouraging journalism teacher, gathered a couple of dozen young men and Justice’s mom into the newsroom, where the magic happens at Malvern.

After brief introductions, YJI board President Steve Collins and Executive Director Jackie Majerus, presented award certificates and YJI mementos to the students.

Then came the moment that brought us all together: Jennifer Rajotte, a YJI board member and an alum in Philadelphia, handed Justice his heavy crystal trophy. His classmates gave him a standing ovation.

Justice immediately told his fellow students that they shared in the honor, that they had done it together. We left Malvern with a warm feeling about all of them – and several glorious handmade ceramic YJI mugs from Ms. Plows, whose skills are apparently endless.

Then Collins and Majerus headed on to Lawrenceville, New Jersey and a beautiful school that looks like a small New England college.

Students from The Lawrenceville School who founded and ranThe Contour won this year’s award for Courage in Journalism. YJI recognized them for their efforts to bulldoze through the obstacles that stand in the way of every new idea and for making their internationally-focused newspaper come to life. They used their voices to inform their community as well as the greater world about events in faraway lands that are all too easily ignored.

In Lawrenceville’s beautiful rotunda, the two YJI co-founders happily presented a crystal trophy to the three managing editors who started the publication: Allison Huang, Scott Newman and Haruka Noishiki.

Their parents honored them – and us – by traveling to Lawrenceville to be there. So did Headmaster Steve Murray, a warmhearted and kind man. Not only did he change his schedule to be there for his students, but he was the first to post about their prize on Instagram.

Proud Lawrenceville staff, including Erik Chaput, The Contour’sfaculty advisor, joined in to support the students.

Afterward, Allison, Scott and two other Contour editors, Bradford Lin and Gianluca Minardi, took their YJI visitors on a fun, interesting tour of Lawrenceville. Engaging hosts, there were rightfully proud of their school and eager to show it off.

Presenting trophies and getting to know students and staff at both Malvern Prep and The Lawrenceville School left such a great impression that YJI’s leaders are eager to return – and to make more visits at other schools, too.

Typically, YJI sends its trophies via the U.S. mail, but this time, with two winners not far apart nor far away, a road trip seemed in order. As much as YJI leaders would have loved to keep driving and deliver the other three trophies in person, sadly, it wasn’t practical. The U.S. Postal Service, however, made those deliveries just fine.

In Kingsport, Tennessee, teacher David Flanary won the Journalism Educator of the Year award. In Houston, Texas, Eli Winter won the Jacinta Marie Bunnell Award for Commentary and in Anchorage, Alaska, Francisco Martinez won the Frank Keegan “Take No Prisoners” Award for News.

Part of YJI’s mission is to promote and defend a free youth press, and the annual Excellence in Journalism contest does just that, by recognizing terrific work by students around the world, whether they’re reporting for YJI or another publication.

While those trophies in Alaska, Texas and Tennessee couldn’t be delivered in person, there’s no doubt that the dedicated students and teachers there just as awesome as those who welcomed YJI to their schools last week. Here’s hoping the future offers a chance for YJI to one day make those journeys, too.


Uganda, by Daniel Gilbert Bwette
Uganda, by Daniel Gilbert Bwette

Hello friends,

Youth Journalism International has been busy, busy, busy!

In recent days, we've published everything from an analysis of Nigeria's attitudes toward homosexuality to Iranian reaction to the lifting of international sanctions. We've had stories about women in Pakistan, travel in the Caucasus, elections in Uganda, a Bruce Springsteen concert and much more.

I figured out recently that we ran stories last year from 32 different countries and from students in 19 U.S. states. That's a whole lot of young people whose voices rang out across the globe, something we're always thrilled about. And it wouldn't be possible without your help.

Your financial assistance opens doors for all sorts of students, from a 15-year-old girl in Tabris, Iran to a college student taking pictures in the jungles of The Gambia, you help tie the world together, creating bonds that stretch across continents, religions and races.

We are beyond grateful for the opportunity you have given to all these beautiful young people and to those of us who work with them every day. Thank you.





Youth Journalism International students across the world have been, as always, amazingly busy in recent weeks. From reports from the climate talk in Paris -- see this link, for example -- to reports from flooded areas of India -- there's not much that our intrepid young writers and photographers miss.

They surprise us often with the variety of material they deliver.

Here, for instance, is a recent piece by Frida Zeinali, a teen who lives in Tabris, Iran. She wrote about World AIDS Day.

And here is a story from Dallas, Texas about the museum at Dealey Plaza about the killing of President John F. Kennedy.

Or look at this one from the Philippines about a protest spurred by trade talks.

We are so proud of all they do and grateful that you have done so much to make it possible.

Take a look at the recent newsletter attached to this short report for more details. Don't hesitate to reach out to us if you ever have any questions, thoughts or concerns. We're eager to hear from you.



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Organization Information

Youth Journalism International

Location: United States, West Hartford - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Steve Collins
West Hartford, Connecticut United States
$12,017 raised of $15,000 goal
205 donations
$2,983 to go
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