Journalism has always been a field with lousy pay, crummy hours 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 for bloggers as young as 13 to prattle on in a particularly iffy section of The Huffington Post without editorial guidance and, of course, without pay.
They’re no doubt supposed to deliver a younger audience to the online monster so it can bolster its bottom line by peddling a few extra advertisements. In return, the kids get to see their precious words in print, unaware that they’re also getting the shaft from a company only too happy to exploit them mercilessly.
This is especially alarming to Youth Journalism International and, no doubt, other nonprofits and organizations that have spent years crafting systems to mentor young writers.
We edit carefully. We teach. We try to learn about our students and to develop relations that foster their spirits as well as their talents. They are
students who, when they grow up, often become friends.
What’s the difference from what we do and what The Huffington Post and Patch are aiming for?
We don’t exploit our students. There’s no profit at Youth Journalism International. Heck, there’s hardly any money at all. We just work thousands of hours a year to make sure students who participate experience the joy of publishing news, columns, pictures, comics and more that meet our high standards.
Our students get the same thrill of publication that any HuffPost High School blogger might feel with the added bonus that they know what they’re sharing with the world has been vetted by professionals, 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 create a system that mercilessly takes advantage of young people. Young writers deserve a helping hand, not just a platform. They deserve to have their voices heard, but they also deserve to be taught. They deserve to have caring adults looking out for their best interest.
Obviously, Youth Journalism International believes that young people should have a voice. But it shouldn’t be harnessed in servitude to big business.