This is Youth Journalism Day, a moment to recognize the importance and value of a free, thriving youth press.
It is celebrated on the anniversary of the day in 1791 that Virginia adopted the Bill of Rights, the final state needed to amend the U.S. Constitution to include a number of measures aimed at protecting the liberty of Americans. The first of them protects a free press.
Part of the mission statement of Youth Journalism International is to promote and defend a free youth press, not just in the United States but everywhere. From our work with our own students, we know that freedom of expression is at least as important to young people as it is to older generations.
All over the world these days, tyrants are taking aim at journalists. Sometimes, they even kill them. That says something in itself about how important it is to have a free, vigilant press. Journalists serve on the front lines of freedom.
Young journalists are still learning the craft. They are learning how to ask questions, take notes and turn what they learn into stories that can capture the imagination of their peers and perhaps the whole world. Some of them will become professional reporters – a number of YJI alums are working journalists now – and all of them have become media-savvy adults.
What young journalists have in common is an awareness of the power and responsibility of the press – and of the necessity that it operate without the heavy hand of government, whether that pressure comes from a principal or a president.
On Youth Journalism Day, we ask that you take a moment to appreciate the hundreds of thousands of students across the globe who are taking steps to stand up for you. And if you have the means, we also ask that you stand up for them by donating to Youth Journalism International at www.HelpYJI.org.
Even small contributions help us provide a free education in journalism to students in scores of countries. We have never charged any students for participating in the 25 years that YJI has operated. Not once. For many, that opportunity has been a godsend, something they can afford that also empowers them, and gives them a megaphone to tell their stories to everyone, everywhere.
Young journalists, like young people as a whole, need this kind of support.
We are so grateful that because of you and people like you, they get it.
Whether you can give or not, we appreciate the support you provide for the young journalists who are going to be leaders in the years to come, not just in journalism but in many fields. They make us proud every day. Today – their day – that’s especially true.