Journalists of the future put pen to paper – with a little help from the Mail

Shotton Academy pupils with Johnston Press North Easts managing editor Gavin Foster, left, and communities content reporter Peter French, right.
Shotton Academy pupils with Johnston Press North Easts managing editor Gavin Foster, left, and communities content reporter Peter French, right.

Budding journalists put pen to paper as they showcased their skills in a special partnership with the Mail.

Pupils from the Academy at Shotton Hall, in Peterlee, created their own newspaper after being given an insight into a career in journalism.

Ross Robertson, of the Johnston Press North East digital team, points the way forward for the students.

Ross Robertson, of the Johnston Press North East digital team, points the way forward for the students.

The talented youngsters, aged between 11 and 14, visited Johnston Press North East’s headquarters as part of the project, to see how a newspaper is produced at close hand.

Gavin Foster, Johnston Press North East’s managing editor, also went along to the academy to pass on some tips to the students.

The results were impressive as school newspaper the Shotton Hall Shout Out was produced by 19 pupils.

The academy’s head of communications, Alix Borthwick, said the students found the experience extremely useful.

It was a very useful project for them, because they learned about how a newspaper operates and works, and they thoroughly enjoyed their visit to the office

Alix Borthwick

She said: “A lot of the pupils had good English skills already, and this gave them the chance to direct those into a journalistic style.

“The newspaper was completely made by the students, and was filled with all of the things they thought people would find interesting. It was a very useful project for them, because they learned about how a newspaper operates and works, and they thoroughly enjoyed their visit to the office.”

The newspaper was edited by Year 9 pupil Abbie Carlisle, who was deputised by fellow students Callum Watson and Emily Dobson.

They helped to direct the other children after showing an ability to lead, as well as their talents as possible journalists of the future.

Johnston Press North East communities content reporter Peter French shares some knowledge with the students.

Johnston Press North East communities content reporter Peter French shares some knowledge with the students.

Abbie, 14, said: “We chose articles related to the school, but they also needed to appeal to a larger audience.

“It was a good experience and I loved seeing behind the scenes at the paper to see how it is all put together.

“It wasn’t really in my mind to be a journalist before I took part in this project, but this experience has made me see it in a different way.”

Abbie added: “As editor, I needed to read through everything to make sure it was right. It made me think about what it’s like for our teachers when they’re marking our work.”

Johnston Press North East social media editor Debra Fox passes on some tips to the students.

Johnston Press North East social media editor Debra Fox passes on some tips to the students.

Gavin Foster, Johnston Press North East’s managing editor, said: “It is great to engage with our local community and this has been a fantastic project.

“The youngsters were fantastic and showed real pride and promise.

“I am sure we have some journalists of the future among them.

“Projects like this show again the important role local newspapers have to play in the community.”