The Sun announces 'Column Idol' shortlist

The Sun has announced the six-strong shortlist for its “column Idol” competition.

Column Idol, now in its third year, offers six young people aged between 18 and 25 the chance to be mentored by top journalists through Media Trust's youth mentoring scheme.

The shortlisted journalists are: Max Barua, 21 from Camden, Ibrahim Khalid, 18, from Ilford; Aaron Dew, 20, from Welwyn Hatfield in Hertfordshire; Alexander Wood, 24, from Reading; Jessica Long, 22, from Solihull; and Laura Hogan, 21, from Birmingham.

They were chosen from 500 entrants and have now been paired with journalists at The Sun to develop their idea for a column which, if they win, will be printed in the paper this autumn.

Barua has been matched to Victoria Watson, online duty editor for The Sun Online.

He said: "I want to write about my journey, breaking through the barrier from scummy mummy to yummy mummy, and why people shouldn't be so quick to judge young parents. I want to tell The Sun readers that you can be young and a good parent and that we aren't all best represented by Vicky Pollard."

Khalid has been matched to Tom Barclay, a sports writer for The Sun Online. Ibrahim said: "I want to write about the huge gulf in pay between professional footballers and the Armed Forces and why we should give more of our attention to the servicemen and women keeping us safe."

Long is working with Sam Carlisle, executive features editor at The Sun.

"I want to write about what it's like to have a disability and my experiences of people's reactions to it,” she said.

“I don't want to complain, but to tell The Sun readers what it's like when people come up to me and ask me why I'm in a wheelchair."

Hogan has been matched to Ellie O'Mahoney, lifestyle editor at The Sun's Fabulous magazine. She commented: "I want to write about being a redhead and why calling someone ginger shouldn't be an insult. Redheads aren't aliens and I want to share this message with The Sun readers."

Wood will work with Lee Price, a features writer at The Sun and winner of The Sun's first Column Idol competition.

"I want to write about middle England and why I believe that social mobility in education is on the slide,” he said. “I want to make The Sun readers laugh when they read my column and hope that they identify with what I have to say.

"I am looking forward to working with Lee to learn from his professional experience and how to inject humour into my column."

Dew has been paired with David Wooding, associate features editor at The Sun.

He said: "Being chosen as a Column Idol finalist is a dream come true. I want to write about racism and religious stereotypes in the UK today. I have personal experience of the challenges facing minorities and I want to share this with The Sun readers.

"I am looking forward to working with David to learn from his expertise and to develop my writing style."

The six final columns will be judged by a panel including columnist and broadcaster Lorraine Kelly and The Sun editor Dominic Mohan.

He said: "The Sun is committed to finding and investing in young talent so I am extremely proud that we are giving new voices a platform through Column Idol again."

Katie Lloyd, deputy chief executive at Media Trust, said: "We're delighted to partner with The Sun for the third year running to find raw talent and give young people the chance to get their voices heard."

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