Aug 17

JOURNALISM CHALLENGES

TOPICS AND ISSUES TO EXPLORE

Each week, on the YWP site, we introduce new challenges to this list. To distinguish them from YWP's regular weekly challenges, we have given them a "CJP" designation for the Community Journalism Project. The Challenges are ordered by the month they appear on the front page of the site, but you can respond to any of these challenges any time through the year! Pick your favorites and write to be published in the YWP newspaper series and in The Voice!
CHALLENGES:

February 2020

CJP-Message:
Gun control measures will always hit a wall of opposition, as happened in Viriginia recently. But if you think gun control matters, speak out. What message would you send?

CJP-Trump's Words: The president’s rhetoric has changed the way hundreds of children are harassed in American classrooms, The Washington Post reports in an investigative piece published Feb. 13, 2020. Read the story, Trump’s words, bullied kids, scarred schools and respond! “It’s gotten way worse since Trump got elected,” the story quotes Ashanty Bonilla, 17, a Mexican American high school junior in Idaho who transferred schools because of bullying. “They hear it. They think it’s okay. The president says it. . . . Why can’t they?”

CJP-Forward: Skip forward 10 years. What is happening in 2030? In the world, America, or your community? Where do you fit into the picture?

CJP-If... In the context of America today in 2020, and your place in the world, begin a poem or story with the words, If I could ...

CJP-Electoral CollegeThe candidate with the most votes does not necessarily win the presidential election, because the Electoral College system is designed to provide a voice for low-population states. Is this fair? Still realistic today?

CJP-Minimum: Imagine that you are in charge of campaigning for a fair minimum wage. What hourly wage would you seek and how would you persuade people to support it?
 

August 2019

CJP-Home: Write about your community. It could be a straight descriptive piece, a personal reflection, or an opinionated commentary. What do you like about it? What works; what doesn't? What would make you want to stay or leave?

CJP-Photo Essay1: Create a photo essay of your community. This could be a general collection of photos, or have a theme (front porches, town forest, main street, farmers' market, civic buildings, etc.). Along with the photos, write a short commentary that reflects the sense of place, what makes it unique or special to you. Remember to identify the photos. 

September 2019

CPJ-Immigrant
Ken Cuccinelli, acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, said in an interview that Emma Lazarus’s words on the Statue of Liberty should read, “Give me your tired and your poor who can stand on their own two feet and who will not become a public charge.” If you could respond directly to Cuccinelli, what would you say?

CJP-Teens: What do adults get wrong about teenagers?

CJP-Photo Essay2: Create a photo essay of a specific place either in your community or your home that is meaningful to you. Along with the photos, write a short commentary that identifies the place and explains why it matters. 

Voices for Change: Join YWP for a Climate Activism Workshop and Open Mic led by YWP Community Leaders Hazel Civalier and Sophie Dauerman and Poet Lizzy Fox. Thursday, Sept. 19, 6-8 PM at Burlington City Arts! It's free and leads up to the Friday, Sept. 20 Global Climate Strike.

CJP-Climate1: Is anyone listening? Send an urgent message about climate change so people will sit up and pay attention.

CJP-Rural: Many of America's rural areas are struggling with such issues as economic decline and loss of population. Is this happening in your community? What can be done?

CJP-Vote: At what age should Americans be allowed to vote? A major political party in Canada, the New Democratic Party, supports lowering the voting age in federal elections to 16. In the U.S., this idea is also gaining some traction, including from U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley, a Democrat from Massachusetts. What do you think of this idea? What are the benefits and risks? 

October 2019

CJP-Morrison: Toni Morrison, the first African-American woman to win the Nobel in Literature, once said, “In this country American means white. Everybody else has to hyphenate.” Expand on Morrison's thought.

CJP-Interview1: Check out the Journalism 101 interviewing tips, choose a classmate, preferably someone you don't know well, and interview this person with the goal of writing a solid profile. Then ask the person to interview you. Use whatever tools you have to document and/or record the interview. 

CJP-Social Justice: Write about a social justice issue that you are witnessing in the world right now. Describe it. If there is hope in solving it, share your ideas. If you think it's hopeless, share your thoughts on that, too. Bring your work to share at YWP's Social Justice writing workshop on Thursday, Oct. 24 at Burlington City Arts, 135 Church St., Burlington, 6-8 PM. More info and sign up here!

CJP-Climate2: Think about your daily life. What is one thing you could start doing today to help ease climate change?

CJP-Arts CriticYoung Writers Project writers attend Kinetic Light's DESCENT at the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts on Oct. 30 and write a 500-word (max) review of the show.
November 2019

CJP-Homeless:  There were more than 550,000 homeless people in the United States on a given night in 2018.  Imagine yourself in that place, and write.

CJP-Guns:  America has seen an alarming rise in mass shootings, but efforts at gun control frequently run into strong opposition. What is the way forward? Is there a way to break through this impasse?

CJP-Health: Is health care a human right, as many argue, or is it more of an individual responsibility that each person should figure out on their own?

CJP-Asylum: President Trump wants to repeal the asylum law, which allows immigrants to come to the United States, seek asylum, and wait for their case to be heard. Is he right? Or should the law stand?

CJP-Presidential: Which candidate for the November 2020 election are you most impressed with? Why?
December 2019

CJP-Law: Is justice blind? What influences come into play in the justice system? How could the system be made more fair?

CJP-Where I Live: Take a moment to think about where you live. What makes it unique, special, feel like home? Maybe it could be better, but for this challenge, focus on what's good about it -- and write!

CJP-Impeachment: For only the fourth time in U.S. history, a president is facing impeachment. The charges are that President Trump abused his office in an attempt to get Ukraine to launch investigations into Trump's political opponent, Joe Biden, and his son Hunter Biden, and that he obstructed Congress's investigation into the matter. Should the president be impeached? What do you hope for the outcome?

CJP-Greta: Greta Thunberg, 16, the Swedish environmental activist who has inspired people around the world to fight climate change, is Time magazine's Person of the Year for 2019, the youngest ever to receive the honor. If you're inspired, write a letter to Greta congratulating her and share your thoughts on climate change. Read the story in The Washington Post.

CJP-Kindness: Write about a kindness you have witnessed or heard about. What impact does it have? OR write about an act of kindness you would like to see or be part of.

CJP-Night: In the book "Night," Holocaust survivor and Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel writes about his experiences as a Jewish prisoner in the Auschwitz and Buchenwald concentration camps during the Second World War. Respond to Wiesel's story in words or images. 
 

January 2020

CJP-Iran: Qasem Soleimani, a top general in Iran, was killed by a US airstrike in Baghdad on Friday, Jan. 3. His successor has vowed retribution for his death. Crowds have flooded the streets to honor Soleimani and to protest against the US, which is sending additional troops to the Middle East. Read about this conflict. Write.

CJP-Bully: Write a letter to a bully and show how destructive/immature/negative this person's behavior is. Use words to rise above.

CJP-Student Debt: Student debt has become an issue in the presidential campaign. Some people say it is burdening an entire generation and needs to be written off by the government, but other people say it is just favoring people who already have the advantage of a college education. What do you think about this issue?

CJP-Society: Society's expectations can be overwhelming at times. What has been your experience? Any suggestions for lifting this weight?

CJP-MLK: Civil Rights Leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. sought to guide us to a more just America. Respond to Dr. King's message of love and equality as it relates to America in 2020: "Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that." (Strength to Love, 1963)