I’m Lily Donaldson.
I am a senior International Baccalaureate student at Bolton High School, and I am a student journalist.
My sophomore year, I was a staff reporter at my school’s news magazine and the city wide student paper, the Teen Appeal. Last year, my school’s journalism program was in shambles, and I turned to the Teen Appeal for a media outlet until December 2015, when the paper lost funding and dissipated. Unable to write for a school paper, and with the Teen Appeal gone, I went a semester without an outlet to write for. In the meantime, I worked on journalistic skills like coding, website design, graphic design, photography/photo editing, and AP and Chicago style writing. I had thought about starting my own media organization, but didn’t know where to start.
In June, I attended the Baldwin Fellows investigative journalism workshop at the University of South Carolina. As the other students went around in our circle and talked about their school news outlets and their plans for next year, I was thinking about how I would not get that opportunity this year. I then thought about all of the other student journalists in my community that were also at loss. I thought about how different I would be had I never gotten the opportunity to work at a student media organization. It was then that I made the promise to make sure that student journalists in Memphis would always have an outlet to turn to, and I was going to be the one to start it.
With the knowledge of how to run a newspaper without outside funding from my school paper, the ability to write and edit from the Teen Appeal, and a lot of help from Chris Muldrow of Rambletype (whom I met at Baldwin Fellows), I set off to create a student media organization: The Memphis Teen.
The Memphis Teen’s mission is:
- to provide a sustainable medium for student journalists across the city to express themselves
- to provide a medium for student journalists with no other outlet
- to provide a censorship-free platform for student journalists that are being censored by their schools or editors
- to teach students from all backgrounds the journalistic process and their first amendment rights
- to provide a student-run media outlet to all teens in the Memphis area
The Memphis Teen does not censor information like most school newspapers do. We aim to provide an open forum for youth around Memphis to express themselves, and we do so in a way that is self-sustaining, so that students in Memphis will forever have an opportunity to be student journalists.