Friday, December 4, 2009

Censorship at Stevenson High

One of the fiercest defenders of American liberty was former U.S. Sen. Adlai Stevenson, twice an unsuccessful presidential candidate but always a man respected for his intellect and his commitment to the ideals for which the United States stands.
Stevenson loved newspapers, which is altogether admirable. But he also loved what they stood for.
Stevenson once called the free press "the mother of all our liberties."
Another time, he insisted, "The free mind is no barking dog to be tethered on a ten-foot chain."
That's why it's particularly disturbing to read that for at least the third time this year the school administration at Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire, Illinois has displayed no respect whatsoever for the First Amendment, a free press or its students.
The District 125 superintendent, Eric Twadell, and the school's principal, Janet Gonzalez, have proven repeatedly their contempt for the ideals that Stevenson built a career on, the same ideals that provide the roots for our democracy.
Twadell and Gonzales have squashed stories about teen drinking, tattoos, sex and more. They've ordered administration-approved pieces published in The Statesman, the school's paper, and forced student reporters to put their bylines on stories they didn't want printed. This week's student paper carries a large blank space where the news should be.
All of it is a sickening display of power run amok.
Instead of teaching the school's 5,000 students about the importance and crucial role of an independent free press, Twadell and Gonzalez have created on object lesson in what happens when government officials override our rights to try to bury embarassing information.
What's happened this year at Stevenson High is a pigheaded attack on freedom.
At Youth Journalism International, we stand for a free youth press, not one that meekly goes along with the whims of dictatorial adminstrators.
So we commend the students at The Statesman. We hail the journalists and others who have taken up their cause. And we express the hope that Twadell and Gonzalez realize soon they are not running a prison. They are running a school.
After all, it was Stevenson himself who expressed the idea that "the first principle of a free society is an untrammeled flow of words in an open forum."
Perhaps Twadell and Gonzalez should be sitting in a classroom learning some history instead of abusing their role as Stevenson High's leaders. They have brought shame to a school that should instead be trying every day to live up to its name.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Young journalists cover everything from Legos to Limerick

Composers Row: (from left to right) Gerald Shapiro, Robert Carl, Neely Bruce and Ken Steen at the Mitchell College performance of Bruce's "The Bill of Rights: Ten Amendments in Eight Motets." Shapiro is a professor of music at Brown University, where he is chair of the music department. Carl is chair of the composition department at The Hartt School, University of Hartford. Bruce is a professor music at Wesleyan University. Steen is an associate professor of composition and music theory at The Hartt School. (Photo by Kiernan Majerus-Collins/

We've got not one, but two new issues at that are chock full of great stuff for you to read from the talented young writers at Youth Journalism International.
Today's issue focuses mostly on American Composers, a group that probably doesn't get its share of ink. YJI Senior Reporter Kienan Majerus-Collins has a package of stories that include pieces on Wesleyan composer Neely Bruce, Hartt School composer Robert Carl and one describing what it was like to play in the band for a world premiere of a new piece of music from the Hartt School's David Macbride. There's also a story about Bruce's fascinating decision to put the Bill of Rights to music, an idea that any journalist has to love.
Also in today's issue is a story from Mumbai, India about how the city is coping one year after the terrible terrorist attack that left 170 people dead and many others wounded. It's the first piece by YJI newcomer Shagorika Ghosh.
Let's not forget last week's issue either.
Limerick, Ireland teen Marese Heffernan, a YJI veteran, wrote about the lingering memory of writer Frank McCourt in the byways of her old city. She also took some pretty good pictures, which is always welcome.
We also have a couple of stories from the first-ever Lego Kidsfest in Hartford, Connecticut that a team of YJI reporters turned out on deadline. Check out the stories and photos by Clare Hern, Kiernan Majerus-Collins, Francis Byrne, Mary Majerus-Collins and Yelena Samofalova.
We also encourage you to poke around on The Tattoo's website, where there are at least 1,500 stories stretching back over 15 years. Collectively, they easily represent the best teen journalism in the world. There is some wonderful stuff.
We're always eager for suggestions, tips, constructive criticism and any other help anyone can offer. Youth Journalism International's application to the IRS for nonprofit status remains pending, by the way. We'll keep you updated on any news about it.
Thanks for reading and thanks for your support of these great young writers from across the globe.

Monday, October 26, 2009

What Youth Journalism International is for

A portion of our recent IRS filing:

In the world of journalism these days, there is much talk of hyperlocal coverage, of online newspapers that can focus attention on a particular community with a range of tools, melding traditional reporting with blogs, video, message boards and more to provide a complete picture of what’s going on in a neighborhood. It’s a worthy idea, though awfully close to what daily newspapers have done in print for centuries. Perhaps the new venues will meet with success. What makes Youth Journalism International different, maybe unique, is its commitment to hyperglobal coverage, based on the idea that young people not only can, but must, reach across national borders to address each other, learn froItalicm each other and ultimately find ways with each other’s help to solve issues that threaten us all.

Youth Journalism International gave me a great opportunity to work with
people from all the countries. I think it is great that we can communicate in such a fast way and I think that debating with people who are not your friends and who may have different opinions is important. – Eugenia Durante, a 2009 Youth Journalism International student in Genoa, Italy.

[Four-year Youth Journalism International student] Edrees Kakar, who is now 22 and working for a bank in Kabul, Afghanistan, knows more than most of us how crucial it is that we pull together. The other day, a suicide bomber targeted the Indian embassy a few blocks away, killing at least 17 and shattering the windows in Kakar’s bank. He is, of course, only too aware that the next blast, or the one after that, or the one after that, could do more than shatter windows nearby. He lives in a dangerous place. But he also lives in the hearts and minds of scores of young people in many lands who know his face, his words, his ideas and, ultimately, him. He means something to them in a way that the 17 people who died outside the Indian embassy did not. Kakar is one of us. And in the long run, Youth Journalism International aims to make everyone understand that all of us are one of us.
We’ve always been a public, educational charity. It’s just time – past time, really – to make it formal.

To read the entire IRS Form 1023 filing, as well as other YJI corporate documents, please follow this link.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

YJI writers up to speed on Usain Bolt, German elections, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and more

The new issue of The Tattoo, which is online now, features Youth Journalism International news stories about the German election and a plane crash in South Africa along with three reviews of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland and a photo page featuring Usain "Lightning" Bolt during his stop this week at the ESPN campus in Bristol, Connecticut.
Youth Journalism International senior reporter Kiernan Majerus-Collins, from Connecticut, took photographs of Bolt before, during and after the speedy Jamaican raced ESPN employees. You can see them here. They also appeared in The Bristol (Conn.) Press.
He also chipped in a glowing review of the rock museum. Two other reporters, Katherine Holland, of Pennsylvania, and Mary Majerus-Collins, of Connecticut, had a different take on it. They actually thought it was booooring. Read all the reviews here.
We also have senior reporter Katie Grosser's story about the German election Sunday, which we published last weekend. Grosser lives in Germany. To get a sense of what young German voters were thinking, check it out here.
And junior reporter Nicole Megan Gounder gets extra credit for racing to the scene of breaking news in her Durban, South Africa hometown after a passenger jet crash landed in a nearby schoolyard. Fortunately, there were no passengers aboard at the time and all four of those badly injured are expected to recover. But as Gounder reports, if it hadn't happened on a national holiday, it could have been a terrible disaster because the plane came down right where kids love to gather before school begins. Read her story here.
As always, we appreciate your constructive criticism, tips and suggestions. We'd love for you to pass this along to anyone teens in your life (or those who care about young people).
We love giving young people a voice.
There's more in the works, of course, and hope you'll check out's vast archives as well. If you've never read it, we especially recommend Samantha Perez's stunning journal of surviving Hurricane Katrina.
You can also follow Youth Journalism International, our educational wing, on Twitter @yjinternational and on Facebook by becoming a Fan of Youth Journalism International.
Thanks so much for your support.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

YJI senior reporter takes on German election

Youth Journalism Internatkional senior reporter Katie Grosser lets the world know what young voters in Germany are thinking as the country heads to the polls to elect a new parliament and perhaps a new government, too. Read all about it here.
For those who don't know, The Tattoo is an online newspaper featuring the work of young writers in more than 20 countries and most U.S. states, including many in our home state of Connecticut. It's in its 16th year and won many, many awards for some stellar work.
You can follow it online at and, along with social media sites. It's at and on Twitter @yjinternational.

Monday, September 7, 2009

YJI goes Inside ESPN to find out what makes it tick

Thirty years ago this evening, a new sports network began broadcasting out of a trailer in Bristol, Connecticut. That tiny operation has grown over the past three decades to become the worldwide leader in sports, with its headquarters looking ever more like a major college campus and that trailer just a distant memory. It has thousands of employees and fans in every country. To celebrate the anniversary, two Youth Journalist International reporters from Connecticut, Clare Hern and Kiernan Majerus-Collins, ventured inside to find out what makes ESPN tick. Their work -- a stellar package of seven stories with lots of pictures, is online now at
It's a great read, the perfect subject for The Tattoo's 200th issue.
Earlier Tattoo stories about ESPN by alums Collins Seguin, T.J. O'Connor and Justin Skaradosky, are also online. Check out the links on our "Latest Issue" page.
We hope you'll read carefully and let us know how we're doing. We're always eager for tips, suggestions, constructive criticism and any help anyone can offer.
The Tattoo is a teen-written, online newspaper that began 15 years ago and has grown into the world's premier showcase for youth journalism. Youth Journalism International, the educational nonprofit that works with the students, is busy every day helping young writers in many countries learn the craft and build bonds across borders with their colleagues across the globe.
Thanks so much for your support of youth journalism.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

YJI writers tell stories from Kabul to Karneval

From left to right: Nabi, Hamid and Shoaib

Edrees Kakar/Youth Journalism International

Three boys in Kabul, Afghanistan head out after school -- even in the middle of Afghanistan's harsh winter -- to sell Lay's potato chips to those passing by in a park. It's what it takes for their families to get by.
Senior reporter Edrees Kakar, who lives in Kabul, tells their story in It's one you won't forget.
In the same Tattoo issue, three other young writers for Youth Journalism International take a look at the steroid controversy swirling around New York Yankees' baseball great Alex Rodriguez. They don't like what they see.
Be sure to catch what New Yorker Luke Pearson and Connecticut teens Clare Hern and Rocco DiTaranto have to say about A-Rod.
In addition, senior reporter Katie Grosser in Germany gives a peek at how Karneval is celebrated in her country, complete with compelling pictures.
And last, but not least, junior reporter Janani Ramachandran has a piece about bringing books to poor students in her native Bangalore, India.