“WE can’t drink, drive or vote, but we can write”: so say the 12 young journalists behind new online newspaper The Under Age.
The Under Age, launched last week, is a collaboration between Fairfax Media’s The Age and youth media organisation Express Media. It is written entirely by Victorian high school students.
The young writers gather each fortnight at Media House in Melbourne to brainstorm and workshop story ideas – ranging from Facebook angst to political tensions in Syria – and collaborate with industry professionals.
“We have so many people coming to us and asking about how they can get involved at the Age, and this is just about getting young people engaged with news media,” said Ben Haywood, the manager of youth strategic publications at The Age.
Mr Haywood said almost two dozen Age editorial staff – including Liz Minchin, Michael Lallo, Emma Quayle and Dan Flitton – had put their hands up to work with the young writers. He added that while Under Age writers would receive guidance and advice from Age staff, editorial curatorship remained in their hands.
“We want to empower the editorial team to look at contributions themselves. They own the direction it takes and the stories they choose,” he said.
“The Age have been wonderfully supportive,” said project coordinator Bhakthi Puvanenthiran. “We’ve got kids from all over Melbourne and the state, so that’s been good to get the diversity.”
Ms Puvanenthiran was optimistic about the future of the partnership.
“[I’m] not sure what the long term plan is at this stage, but with such positive feedback, I don’t see why it wouldn’t be repeated in the future.”