The Daily Mirror has been taken over by teenagers for one day only after its editor was inspired by meeting one of the students involved in the strike for climate change in February.
Alison Phillips met a girl called Lottie when she appeared on Politics Live and realised teenagers may be worth listening to on a wider range of issues, deciding she wanted to go further than just reporting on them by getting them involved in the newspaper.
Editorial coverage in today’s newspaper has been led by 23 teenagers aged 14 to 19 under the Next Gen tagline.
An additional seven young contributors were also featured, such as Loose Women star Coleen Nolan’s 17-year-old daughter taking over her agony aunt column in the paper for the day.
The teens, from Belfast, Birmingham, Bournemouth, London, Sheffield and Watford, were recruited from schools which were largely in underprivileged areas and “Mirror heartland”, said a spokesperson.
The young journalists first travelled into the Mirror’s Canary Wharf office in London on 29 April to share ideas with the newspaper’s head of politics and campaigns Jason Beattie.
They then returned yesterday to put together today’s newspaper, taking control of every major part of the paper, including the front page, leader column and masthead design.
Their editorial content will also feature on the Mirror’s website and social media channels today.
“The Mirror has a long history of giving a voice to those who may otherwise go unheard,” Phillips said.
“So often nowadays teenagers are dismissed as not doing much beyond staring at their phones or their trainers. They’ve been derided as ‘the snowflake generation’.
“So we asked them to tell us what are the issues they really care about. For one day we have handed over the keys – or keyboards – of the Mirror to let them run our news and features coverage in print and online.”
Aisha Malik-Smith, 16, and Karina Tautkute, 17, interviewed Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn about subjects including mental health waiting lists, knife crime, fair working conditions, and why young people should vote in the European elections.
Malik-Smith said: “Interviewing Jeremy was a real pleasure. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to get to know the man beyond the politician, and am glad he felt able to reveal more of his personal side.
“I was particularly impressed by the honesty with which he spoke of his childhood and how he was shaped by a friend taking their own life.
“Listening to him explain his policies firsthand was a fascinating experience that I will cherish for many years.”
Teenagers also chose to interview Prince William, TV presenter and environment campaigner Chris Packham, Education Minister Damian Hinds, and Love Island’s Megan Barton-Hanson.
The editorial leader page was taken over by Amelia McDowell, the 16-year-old who went viral after summing up why she felt the Conservatives were to blame for Brexit on Question Time in March.
The newspaper also features a report on young people and trade unions, including the recent Wetherspoons strike, by Malik-Smith, who ran for local council aged 18, a feature on social media and mental health, a first-person piece by 17-year-old Abel Harvie-Clark who was expelled for taking part in the Extinction Rebellion protests, and a feature on teen homelessness.
The young people also wrote a manifesto of demands and a list of “ten things we wish adults understood about teens”.
To follow up the project, the Mirror revealed it will renew its apprenticeship scheme so it can “continue to canvass a wider range of young voices” and leave a lasting legacy for young people in the newsroom.
The revised scheme will continue to see the Mirror hire two trainee journalists each year as before, but will formalise their commitment to diverse hiring by introducing blind applications and more actively recruiting non-university graduates.
Picture: Daily Mirror