Why we are searching for a Young Person's Champion for the newsroom

Action from the third Youth Strike 4 Climate protest outside City Hall, Norwich. Picture: Jamie Hone

Action from the third Youth Strike 4 Climate protest outside City Hall, Norwich. Picture: Jamie Honeywood - Credit: Archant

"Young people aren't interested in the news."

For far too many years this has been the assumption at newsrooms all over the country and probably negatively influenced the level to which young people have been represented by the media.

And perhaps to some extent it's true. But perhaps it's also become a self-fulfilling prophecy and we, the media, have closed our minds to trying to get young people engaged in the content we create.

However, in the last few years, there have been numerous examples which prove there is a growing interest amongst youngsters, and by that I'm referring to those aged 13 to their very early 20s, in what is happening to the world around them.

The first real inkling of that was Brexit and the subsequent fall out, in which many young people felt disappointment, and perhaps some regret, at a feeling the decision was made by a group of older people who wouldn't be the ones to be affected by it for years to come.


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In the months that followed, an increasing number of young people became engaged in politics and joined political parties which they felt most chimed with their respective beliefs.

Action from the third Youth Strike 4 Climate protest outside City Hall, Norwich. Picture: Jamie Hone

Action from the third Youth Strike 4 Climate protest outside City Hall, Norwich. Picture: Jamie Honeywood - Credit: Archant

We've also seen a growing interest and engagement from young people in the issue of climate change. Again sparked by a feeling of decisions impacting future generations but not really being impacted by those future generations and, no doubt, the likes of Greta Thunberg and her outstanding work to highlight the issue.

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This manifested itself in large scale protests in Norfolk and beyond prior to the pandemic, which saw hundreds of children miss school for the day and take to the streets.

https://www.edp24.co.uk/news/young-climate-activists-take-to-the-streets-of-norwich-1482816

Of course, while it isn't ideal for school studies to be impacted, you couldn't help but admire their spirit and desire to actually get out there, take action, be seen and be heard.

Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg takes her seat prior to the opening session of the Wor

Greta Thunberg - Credit: AP

And thirdly, I believe the coronavirus pandemic has been another reason for an increasing number of young people to become engaged in the media and its coverage of issues.

When it comes to disruption to normal life, during this pandemic you'll struggle to find a group of people worse hit than the younger generation.

Of course the majority have been lucky enough to know the disease is unlikely to be a matter of life or death, but that doesn't mean it hasn't taken its toll.

During what is meant to be the 'best days of their lives', youngsters have had to cope with disruption to school and exams, increased loneliness and mental health issues and worsening tensions at home. I know from my own work with young people in Norfolk, like last year's webinar, they feel misunderstood and misrepresented on covid, just like in other areas. 

David Powles, editor of the Eastern Daily Press and Norwich Evening News, hosting the #We'veGotThis

An EDP/Norwich Evening News webinar for young people - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

All of this is a big reason why we have decided to introduce a brand new full-time role into our newsroom, that of the 'Young People's Champion'.

We recognise that we need to do more to give a voice to this marginalised, but important, section of Norfolk and Waveney's population and this is our attempt to do so.

Working in partnership with Facebook, we are looking for a bright, enthusiastic and passionate young person to not only report on issues impacting young people, but also work with young people themselves to encourage them to have more of a say on our websites and in our newsrooms.

Full and extensive training will be provided. The successful candidate will be given all of the necessary tools to make this role the success I am sure it can be.

I really hope we can do something unique and pioneering to ensure that, at least in Norfolk and Waveney, young people know there is a place to go to get their voices heard.  

* If this sounds like a role you or someone you know will be interested in, more information can be found at  www.archant.co.uk/content-vacancies. The deadline for applications is Monday, May 3.

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