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Examples of Work
Voices cover -- Stranded
Voices cover -- Destructive Decisions
Voices double truck -- Dawson's Creek
Voices Web site
YEAA Web site
wendy zang Why did you become a journalist?
In eighth grade, we had the option to take an elective. There were several choices including journalism, drama and computers. I chose journalism, and it changed my life. It sounds corny, I know, but it's true. I was bitten by the journalism bug and knew I wanted to work for a newspaper.
Can you tell us about Voices and your role as its editor?
Voices is a 20-page, weekly tabloid section of the Reading (Pa.) Eagle/Reading Times. It is written by, for and about teens in our area, and each section has a main topic, as well as news, sports and entertainment pages. The idea is to best represent the full cross-section of teen life and give teens in our community a voice.
As editor, I'm responsible for all the editorial content in the section (everything that's not an ad) and on our Web site (http://voices.readingeagle.com). I assign stories to a teen staff of nearly 150 students in grades 9-12. I edit the teens' work and give them feedback to help them become better writers. I oversee the art in the section and its design. I conduct monthly meetings with our teen writers to assign stories and hold writing workshops. I also supervise an adult reporter and two high-school-aged interns who help to make sure Voices runs smoothly.
When you started out in journalism, was it your goal to work so closely with teens?
I had no clue I'd end up working with teens. Throughout high school and college, I saw my future jobs as political reporter and news editor. I never thought I'd be working with students or even working in the features department, but I love both. I often say that I have it better than any high school teacher -- I get to work with teens but don't have to deal with anyone who doesn't want to be here.
Why should teens read daily newspapers?
I had a pretty good idea of my answer to this question, but I also asked my interns -- Bryan Behrenshausen and Liz Greenwood, both 2001 high school grads. All three of us agreed that there is no better way to plug in to what's happening in your world than the newspaper. It's the perfect way to find all the news you need -- from political happenings to high school sports scores -- in one convenient place. Not only do you get the facts, but you can learn how the news is affecting people.
Plus, in the words of Bryan, "newspapers rock; giddyup!"
What's the most challenging part of your job?
Convincing crusty adults that teens have a lot to say. The upshot: There is an amazing moment of realization when a cynical, "kids today ... " adult reads a great teen-written story. You can almost see the light bulb form over the adult's head, as if to say: "Yes, teens do have brains. And, yes, they do have insight."
Do you get a lot of reader reactions to stories that appear in Voices?
Yes. We get a lot of positive feedback from readers of all ages.
Can you tell us about the Youth Editors Association of America?
The Youth Editors Association of America is a vibrant and growing coalition of professionals in an emerging field of journalism. We are journalists who work with young people in producing newspaper pages or sections targeted at youth. We have a passion about young writers and readers and a dedication to establishing strong professional ties.
The group has grown immensely since it was founded more than five years ago, and that growth has created a need to expand to best serve our members. For that reason, YEAA is in the midst of merging with the NAA Foundation. All the services of YEAA will continue under the new name of Youth Editorial Alliance.
You can read more about the merger and YEAA services - including our fall conference, Oct. 12-15 in Springfield, Ill. - at http://www.geocities.com/yeaaeditor