Encouraging press to cover an event in New York City is no easy feat, said TEDxYouth@MSC organizer Manuela Zamora, so she and her team took the duties within: to the attendees. On a sunny Friday at Manhattan School for Children PS333, sixth, seventh, and eighth graders buzzed around their school’s auditorium, searching out opportunities to report on the unfolding action of the day at TEDxYouth@MSC.
Their mission? To chronicle the inaugural TEDx event at their school in Manhattan, New York, an event dedicated to exploring sustainable sciences, taking place mostly indoors, but also brought to the school’s rooftop greenhouse, where they and their fellow classmates conduct research and grow hydroponic crops.
Before the event, organizers met with the school’s Student Council, a group of middle schoolers who take on leadership roles at the school, and asked them if they would be willing to report on the event for outsiders and their fellow students.
"Only the students who wanted to participate took the ‘job,’" said Manuela. "I think most of them, if not all, where thrilled with the opportunity." Students were "on call" before, during, and after the event, she said, set up in teams with different responsibilities. "We prepared an agenda together," she said, "and we invited a reporter to talk to the press team about her job as a journalist [at] a local newspaper."
On the day of the event, “the press team,” as they were called, were each given a uniform, credentials, and an invitation to an official headquarters: TEDxYouth@MSC t-shirts, special press passes, and a section of the event closed off just for them. Youth were provided with reporting equipment, and “we also had two college interns supporting them tweeting,” said Manuela. "They knew they had the conference breaks only [to work], so they were very focused and efficient," she said. "I think they were great and they had a good time!"
Youth reporters contributed “blog entries in preparation to the conference; recorded/filmed interviews [with] TEDxYouth@MSC speakers as well as [with] the audience; tweets; and a lot of excitement about been part of an important event that was viewed [live] in other schools, cities and even other countries,” said Manuela. A professional reporter from Japan even visited the event, and turned the tables on the “press team” by interviewing them on their experiences as reporters at a serious event.
The job gave the students a sense of ownership of the event, helping them to realize that a TEDxYouth event is not just directed at them, but is for them, about them, and, importantly, by them.
“Having fun at school!” tweeted a MSC student, Audrey, obviously excited about the event. "I’m part of the press at a TEDx youth event! #feelingimportant #TEDxYouth."
On November 17th and 18th, young people all over the world will be reporting on TEDxYouth events happening during TEDxYouthDay. These TEDxYouthDay Reporters will blog, tweet and Facebook their way through a weekend of nearly 100 TEDx events. Learn more about TEDxYouthDay.