Next page is seeking input from teenagers

May 09, 2004|by JAKE WOMER

We need help. Each Tuesday, The Herald-Mail prints its Next page - a page set up for teenagers - on the front of the Lifestyle section.

Other days, the section is focused on food, family, entertainment and health, but this is meant to be a day for young readers and those who share their interests.

With a mix of movie, music and video-game news and reviews, it's heavy on entertainment information. There's also a short calendar of upcoming events. And, for those students who want to know, there's a listing of school menus for the following week.

The centerpiece of the page is a story written by the Lifestyle department. Writers and editors brainstorm story ideas and look for opportunities to write about Tri-State teens. This usually consists of five people, fortunately or unfortunately, at least a decade removed from high school. We localize stories about national trends, talk about upcoming events and highlight achievements of those in the area.


When I was in school, Nirvana was all the rage, "Reservoir Dogs" was in theaters - maybe two people knew director Quentin Tarantino's name - and the Cold War was wrapping up.

Nirvana's long gone, Tarantino's an influential filmmaker on his fifth movie and there's a whole other war going on. So, things have changed. And we could use fresh perspectives.

I would like to see the page take on more relevance to its target readership, and who knows teens' interests better than teens?

So, I'd like to hear from young people about what they'd like to see on the page. What's going on? What's cool and what is not?

The phattest thing - see, just an old man trying to be cool - would be for teens with an interest in writing to send in ideas or give a call to talk about story possibilities.

And teens don't have to settle for being the focus of stories. Try writing them. Young people can get their voices in the newspaper with a good idea and a little determination. They can really make that page their own.

We might not run with each idea, but I'll listen and at least consider it. There are opportunities for teens who want to challenge themselves and maybe add to their college rsum with some extracurricular work. Of course, stories and photographs must be appropriate for publication.

Parents and teachers who are reading this column can encourage young writers to share their thoughts and perhaps get a story published. It would be better if writers call to discuss their ideas before wheeling up to a computer.

Stories can be about issues that concern the writer or something that that spurs wide interest. They also can focus on people who are thinking outside the box and leaving their mark on the community.

For those who would like to contribute to the Next page, please call me at 301-733-5131, ext. 2340, or send an e-mail to

Jake Womer is Lifestyle editor of The Herald-Mail.

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