Lower Sixth Formers and brothers, Hasan and Hussain Zaidi, share their experiences as part of the long standing Young Reporters Scheme in this guest blog.
Whitgift is renowned for the many co-curricular activities that it offers. This blog entry is about how my brother, Hussain, and I have enjoyed one of its lesser-known disciplines, journalism. Over the past four years, we have composed numerous articles on topics that we appreciate for various school publications and the Young Reporter Scheme.
Our first taste of journalism came as Third Formers, during a morning assembly. Mrs Goldberg had been promoting the BBC News School Report (one of the many schemes that the school offers) and, out of interest, I signed up. I was very fortunate to interview the former Archbishop of Canterbury, asking him about his life during and after his term – an unforgettable experience that taught me how to question such esteemed people.
The following year, Mrs Boon asked us if we would like to write for a programme run by a publisher of local newspapers, Newsquest. Not wanting to miss out, we enthusiastically accepted, excited to see our words published online. Immediately we began producing an article a month, ranging from features to political interviews. Journalism opened our eyes to issues that we otherwise would not have given a second thought.
That is not to say writing came without a challenge. For one, we were initially perplexed when deciding what we were going to write about; after all, we could write about anything. This surplus of ideas did not hold us back – we soon realised that writing about our passions led to words streaming onto the page. For example, I might choose to write about what I have heard in the news or an absorbing thought. At other times my pieces have involved events or interviews, requiring me to research so that my reports are well-informed. My brother has relished interviewing Sir Keir Starmer, Laura Kuenssberg and Tim Davie.
More pressingly, we had to improve our organisation skills, learning to accommodate investigating and composing our ideas into busy homework schedules. That is not to say that this was at a detriment to my academic studies; taking up journalism has had a profound impact on our lives. In doing so, our writing became more fluid, allowing us to more finely craft our words. We have also learnt the importance of evaluating sources. Recently, we have written for a variety of school magazines, ranging from the W Magazine to editing the school economics magazine, Whitonomics. With university applications coming up, I feel reassured in my ability to write.
I would advise anyone seeking to get involved not to hesitate – it is harder to pick up a pen than writing with it. Once you find something that you feel strongly about, you will find it easy to discuss.
The opportunities offered by our School are endless.
The Young Reporters' Scheme began in 2008 and Whitgift has been involved since the start. The scheme gives students aged 14-18 an opportunity to write for a real live online newspaper. It is now facing funding cuts and so if you feel able to support their fundraising efforts to keep this important initiative going, please visit: https://gofund.me/d7e31d04