Are you a student interested in current events, graphic design, writing and/or photography?
If so, the Kootenay Teen News (KTN) is seeking active young journalists to contribute to its newspaper.
“I’m not one to do these sorts of things, but I was eager to join and it has been amazing so far,” said 15-year-old KTN contributor Landon Dales. “I love that KTN is a different kind of news.”
The Kootenay Library Federation published its first edition of the KTN in January, the first Kootenay-wide newspaper created by teens for teens.
“We received funding from the Kootenay Library Federation, and I’m trying to get teens to write, take photos, and eventually we’re going to work up to them doing the layout and making editorial decisions,” said Nelson Public Library teen and literacy services co-ordinator, Melodie Rae Storey.
About 200 copies of the free newspaper are published and shared with libraries across the Kootenays and can be accessed online. While still in the initial stages, Storey hopes to publish one edition every two months with contributions from young journalists from schools like J. L. Crowe, Seven Summits and Kootenay Columbia Learning Centre (KCLC).
“My hope is that it’s more geographically equal, but it’s just about getting the word out and sometimes it take a while to build something like this,” said Storey.
The first January edition did not shy away from weighty and sensitive issues such as Lily McKenna’s cogent article on self-inflicted harm, a very real concern among teens, often brought on by depression, anger, grief, fear, anxiety and hurt.
“It is so important that teens have an outlet like KTN. Let’s be honest, there’s no one better who can better communicate important messages to teens than other teens,” said McKenna. “It really makes a difference personally to read writing from other teenagers around the Kootenays.”
The edition is filled with provocative copy including contributors like 13-year-old Ashleigh Germaine’s look at the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women, and 14-year-old Chloe Loveday’s article titled Old Growth Matters.
In addition, a Teen News feature written by 17-year-old Mika Elkug-Warthe of Queens Bay, interviews director Amy Bohigian on her short film, Queering the Interior, a fascinating history of the LGBTQ2S+ community and its evolution in the Kootenays.
The Teen News also boasts its very own movie critic and cartoonist in Dales of Invermere and book reviewer Israel Flesaker, 17, of Nelson.
Dales heard about KTN through the Invermere Public Library on social media, while McKenna’s English teacher recommended she get involved.
“I hate watching the news on TV or reading newspapers as do most people my age, but KTN is reporting on real issues while making it interesting to teens,” said Dales. “We can write about our interests, bad things happening, things in our schools and communities, anything we don’t see being represented in larger media.”
Teen News also runs workshops to help students understand the media and its many and varied elements, as well as hosts guest speakers such as Nelson Star editor-reporter Tyler Harper and photo-journalist Louis Bockner.
So far the response has been very promising with almost 50 teams in contact with the program and a dozen contributors for the first edition.
“I have been really, really pleased, because you never know how these projects will go,” said Storey.
The KTN editor would like to see students from Greater Trail get involved, particularly following the student protest against sexual violence at KCLC last month.
Bringing these concerns to light through resources like Kootenay Teen News provides a platform for open and honest discussion, can create dialogue for potential change, and provide alternative creative outlets for teens.
“I am most interested in the opportunity to get involved in, discover, and inform different communities,” said McKenna. “It also excites me to have a voice when it comes to recent issues or stories.
“I love to write and meet new people, so journalism is the perfect mix of the two.”
If you have a story idea? Something happening in your community that we should know about? Let us know, added Storey. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.