Journalism has always been a field with lousy pay, crummyhours and miserable bosses. But even so, what The Huffington Post and Patch are planning
is unusually sinister even by the standards of the news industry.
HuffPost High School is planning to open the doors forbloggers as young as 13 to prattle on in a particularly iffy section of TheHuffington Post without editorial guidance and, of course, without pay.
They’re no doubt supposed to deliver ayounger audience to the online monster so it can bolster its bottom line by peddling a few extra advertisements. Inreturn, the kids get to see their precious words in print, unaware that they’realso getting the shaft from a company only too happy to exploit themmercilessly.
This is especially alarming to Youth JournalismInternational and, no doubt, other nonprofits and organizations that have spentyears crafting systems to mentor young writers. We edit carefully. We teach. We try to learn about our students and todevelop relations that foster their spirits as well as their talents. They arestudents who, when they grow up, often become friends.
What’s the difference from what we do and what TheHuffington Post and Patch are aiming for?
We don’t exploit our students. There’sno profit at Youth Journalism International. Heck, there’s hardly any money atall. We just work thousands of hours a year to make sure students whoparticipate experience the joy of publishing news, columns, pictures, comicsand more that meet our high standards.
Our students get the same thrill ofpublication that any HuffPost High School blogger might feel with the addedbonus that they know what they’re sharing with the world has been vetted byprofessionals, crafted with care and treated with respect.
There’s honor in that, for us and for our students.
We can’t accept that a major corporation – AOL – would createa system that mercilessly takes advantage of young people. Young writers deserve a helping hand, notjust a platform. They deserve to have their voices heard, but they also deserveto be taught. They deserve to have caring adults looking out for their bestinterest.
Obviously, Youth Journalism International believes thatyoung people should have a voice. But it shouldn’t be harnessed in servitude tobig business.
Filed under: AOL, Huffington Post, journalism, Patch, teen journalism, Youth Journalism International