March 11, 2019

An innovative New Orleans program gives high schoolers a chance to be real journalists

Meet the finalists for the 2019 Renewal Awards, a program of The Atlantic and Allstate. Five winners will receive a $20,000 prize from Allstate.

New Orleans Junior Journalism Program is helping aspiring journalists get real-world training while they're still in high school. Photo courtesy of the nonprofit

Editor’s note: Meet the finalists for 2019 The Renewal Awards. The annual program that honors nonprofits that are creatively solving problems in their communities is a project of The Atlantic and Allstate. This year, five winners each will receive a $20,000 prize from Allstate. Winners will be announced April 3 at The Renewal Summit in New York City. You can watch a live stream of the event, which begins at 9:30 a.m. EDT, on our Facebook page.

Imagine having a front row seat to your city’s most important events, or a backstage pass to talk to the newsmakers and influential cultural icons of our time—all while still in high school.

Formed in 2017, the New Orleans Junior Journalism Program trains aspiring journalists, giving them the opportunity to work as real journalists, reporting on local events, politics, sports, and culture in their city. The nonprofit is helping to build a strong pipeline of women and people of color who are underrepresented in newsrooms across America.

“Our students get to experience what it’s like to be a professional journalist, while reporting on events that match their passions,” co-founder Allison McCarroll told us.

[ Read: Meet the finalists for the 2019 Renewal Awards ]

Students who are accepted into the program learn real-life journalism skills from professional mentors and they get to test those skills by covering events as credentialed media. They’ve covered professional basketball games, interviewed political candidates, and even traveled to this year’s Super Bowl in Atlanta. They also have the opportunity to publish their work on the program’s website as well as in local publications.

While mentors help build their students’ writing and reporting skills, they are also helping them develop critical thinking skills, networking experience, and a better understanding of their world, said McCarroll.

As the program grows and engages new mentors and high schoolers, McCarroll said she hopes to see participants succeed in the journalism industry, and return one day.

“We’ll know we’ve succeeded when our current students return to us as mentors and tell our future students ‘I am so thankful that I had this program,’ instead of ‘I wish this program was around when I was in high school.’”

Follow New Orleans Junior Journalism Program on Twitter @WeAreJRNOLA. Donate to the nonprofit here.

Margaret Myers

Margaret Myers is the editor of The Renewal Project.