Year 12 student Rosie won a top journalism prize by combining her love of writing with her favourite TV show, The Great British Bake Off. Although she admits to knowing little about journalism before the national lockdown, she used her time to explore the subject in-depth. Discovering the renowned organisation Youth Journalism International, Rosemary linked up with other young writers from across the globe, to collaborate on thought-provoking and award-winning articles, such as the impact of the pandemic on young people. It also gave her the enviable opportunity to interview her Bake Off heroes.
Here’s Rosie to tell you more.
“I first found out about Youth Journalism International (YJI) during the first national lockdown of 2020. Journalism wasn’t something I had been particularly knowledgeable about until this point, but as a keen writer, I was eager to do something useful with my time during the pandemic. After a successful introductory article about Liverpool, I was shown the ropes and became acquainted with other journalists around the globe.
“YJI is a charitable organisation that provides a free journalism education to young people around the world and promotes a youth press. It was founded in 1994 by a small group of students, and since then, Jackie Majerus and Steve Collins have seen more than 500 students between the ages of 12 and 24 develop their skills and become connected with other writers. I feel incredibly fortunate to associate myself with this wonderful company and grateful for the online publishing opportunities I have had.
“To date, my favourite article to write was about the cultural impact of ‘The Great British Bake Off’ – it is a programme I thoroughly enjoy and I was able to interview four contestants about their experiences with the show – Jane Beedle, Howard Middleton, Andrew Smyth and Ian Cummings. Having watched them on TV, I was very excited (and quite nervous) to hear their thoughts about the impact of Bake Off and the article seemed to go down very well. We discussed the family-friendly aspect of the show, how its wholesomeness makes it so well received, and it was lovely to hear that they have stayed in touch by working on ‘Bake with a Legend’, which provides baking masterclasses with GBBO stars. I am pleased to report that they are all as lovely in real life as they are on television.
“Most of the articles and commentaries I have written are about arts and culture, including the impact of lockdown on theatre, small businesses, plus reviews of musicals like Hamilton and Newsies. However, last year, a large group of YJI students worked on a project called ‘Covid Mood’ about the psychological impact of the pandemic on different communities. This involved interviewing tens of individuals, compiling all the responses and writing seventeen news stories with authors from six continents. Taking home first prize for the ‘In-Depth Reporting Team Award’ at the ‘Excellence in Journalism Contest’ in May this year was amazing as it felt like the perfect way to celebrate the hard work that was put in by the group.
“There have been other benefits to my journalism endeavours too. Although I am not able to attend all the bi-weekly zoom meetings, I have connected with many of my peers, and the YJI Discord group is always active! I have made friends with people from lots of different countries, which has been amazing. Not only is everyone lovely, but they are also incredibly talented and passionate about what they do. The support from the editors has been remarkable too – it genuinely feels like a big, supportive family.
“I would really encourage Blue Coat students to have a look at the Youth Journalism International website and to follow them on their social media platforms.
“The main thing I have learnt from getting involved with journalism is that it’s important to put yourself out there – everyone is a lot better at writing than they give themselves credit for (myself included)! There are so many online writing opportunities available, and even if it is not a career you’re considering, developing a hobby like this can be extremely beneficial and open lots of doors – why not give it a go?”
Year 12 student Rosie