Story Submission

Youth Today is the national trade newspaper for people who work with children and youth. The Atlanta-based nonprofit newspaper is published bi-monthly in print and daily online.

The paper is funded by advertisements, foundation grants and subscriptions. Effective March 2012, Youth Today is published by the Center for Sustainable Journalism at Kennesaw State University. Prior to that, the paper was published by the American Youth Work Center.

Learn more about: Our Readership | Our Focus | Our Writers | Our Stories | Other Details


Readership

Youth Today readers are primarily professional youth workers and administrators of youth service, youth advocacy and youth policy programs. They include direct care workers (teachers, day care providers, counselors, recreation staff, juvenile corrections officers), managers of nonprofit and for-profit agencies (from the YMCA down to the smallest community-based agencies), operators of faith-based programs and public agencies, academics, lobbyists, government administrators, and legislative and executive staff.

A reader survey found the "typical" reader is a 39-year-old program manager with a master's degree and 10 or more years experience in the youth service field.

Predominantly, readers are not teens — other than those employed as peer counselors and the like — or parents (although many agency staffers are also parents).

 

Our Focus

Youth Today covers just about any issue involving youth and the adults who work on their behalf, from direct-care services, health and juvenile justice to government policies and legislation, funding for youth programs and youth development.

Youth Today writers should know who they are writing for: adults who work with kids, rather than kids or parents. Stories require a level of depth beyond what one finds in general-circulation youth and parenting publications, and certainly a different angle.

For example, a contributing writer did a series for his daily newspaper about a toddler killed by her parents, who were under investigation for child abuse. For Youth Today, he wrote about how once-confidential details about child abuse investigations are more often becoming public when the child is killed, and what that public exposure means for child protection workers, their agencies, and the children who are the subject of the investigations.

 

Our Writers

Youth Today's stories are written by staff writers or experienced journalists on assignment. Our freelance writers have extensive experience writing for newspapers, magazines, online publications or other news outlets.

Youth Today also publishes roughly 700-word guest columns by people in the youth work field. These pieces can be based on the writer's own experiences or based on research, but they must deal with an issue of interest to our readership and must soundly argue an opinion, or advocate for a change in thinking or action within the youth field. For additional details, reference the Opinion section on our site and in the Contributor’s Guide below.

 

Vital Stats About Stories

Stories run from 600 words to 2,500 words. Compensation is negotiated on an individual basis. Payment depends on story length and complexity. Writer's fees may rise as they write for us more often.

Payment is on publication. We buy first North American publication rights along with reprint rights. We allow some publications to reprint our stories with permission, free of charge, because we are a nonprofit whose mission is to disseminate information about the youth field to the widest possible audience.

 

Format

Stories must be submitted via e-mail to the appropriate editor, in MS Word or a text-only version. Limit formatting with boldface, centering, etc., except for short subheads (one-to-three words) throughout the story to break up copy. Please reference the Staff directory for appropriate contact information.

 

Stories We like

Best practices: A profile of an agency and its approach to youth work. These stories may focus on a person who created or drives an agency, how the agency deals with obstacles (financial or political, for instance), and how the agency measures its success. Can anything this person or this agency did be replicated? Are there lessons that readers can apply?

Survey pieces: A sampling of how agencies around the country are handling an issue in youth work or are adapting a certain approach to fit their needs. For example, stories about the history of boot camps as a juvenile justice strategy, or how agencies are using technology in youth development, rather than just plopping kids in front of computers and letting them play.

Issues: What's impacting youth-work practice? For example, stories about how youth agencies are grappling with the question of how to train staff to restrain disruptive youth without hurting them.

Management: A look at how an agency grew, how it secured funding, how it expanded its services and how it dealt with personnel issues. Example: A small suburban youth service bureau in upstate New York used AmeriCorps funding to become a powerhouse serving its entire region, and is now the largest AmeriCorps program in the state.

Follow the Money: Examining where foundation or government money is going, or how effectively it was/is being spent.

Professional Development: Programs that train or educate youth workers, such as coverage of a program that trains juvenile corrections officers to operate as "youth workers" rather than as guards.

Debunking Myths: Stories that knock down perceived notions about youth or youth work. For example, some in law enforcement, academia and the media have been warning about a youth gang epidemic, problems with gathering numbers or even defining gangs has made it impossible to tell if there really is a gang epidemic.

 

Stories That Make Us Smile

Funding: This is of utmost importance to our readers, for whom youth services is a business. When you mention an agency, include its budget; when you mention a foundation, include its assets. If you are profiling an agency, our readers want a general breakdown of its income: government contracts, foundation grants (including biggest funders), other contributions, and earned income through sales of goods and services. As with other data, we sometimes break this out into a chart for readers.

Data: A good story gets even better when boosted by federal, state or local data about the issue being discussed. For example, a story about teen pregnancy prevention efforts should include data about teen pregnancy rates in the county or state or nation. A story about a specific program should include demographics about the town, city or county, like the number of youths, the percent below the poverty line, etc. Youth Today can help reporters get that information. Because such statistics sometimes bog down a story, we often put those statistics in a box or sidebar.

A Sense of Place: If the story includes a site visit, make sure the reader can feel that you've been there. Include demographics such as income levels, racial makeup and delinquency rates. We understand that the trick is to do this without getting carried away. A good example: A story on faith-based youth work opens with a scene from Texas: "It's an hour until dawn, but the 36 youths who live in Dorm 56 of the Gainesville State School are already groomed, dressed and down on their knees in prayer."

Sidebars: For readability, we encourage writers to break up long features with sidebars. This is particularly effective for information that the writer feels is necessary but may disrupt the narrative. For example, a story about what happens to suspended and expelled students in Decatur, Ill., included a sidebar on who is responsible for paying for alternative education programs for such students.

 

What We're Cautious About

Education: Youth Today covers education-related issues, but there are several publications aimed at teachers and education administrators and we don't want to cover the same ground. Our education-related stories must go beyond the classroom and school building, focusing on services and service providers outside the traditional public school structure. Some examples include after-school programs that involve community based organizations; the growth of charter schools run by for-profit and nonprofit agencies; and what kind of alternative education was provided for the youths who were suspended from school in Decatur, Illinois, after they were suspended for fighting at a football game in 1999.

Narratives about Kids' Troubles: Although our paper is Youth Today, the focus has to be on the person who is working with youths. Writers sometimes lead their stories with gripping narratives about a youth who was involved in a horrible situation, such as drug use, crime or abuse at home — perfectly appropriate leads for a general readership, but not always right for youth workers. Most of our readers work with kids like this every day. They want to know that the story is about the practice of youth work and how it can make a difference in kids' lives. Thus our stories tend to lead with the work being performed by the youth worker, or with the youth participating in the activity that the youth-serving agency operates.

Fawning: We don't do do-gooder stories. The youth field is filled with people doing good work; readers want to know how someone does good.

 

Getting Started

Pitch a story and/or e-mail a résumé, a short cover letter, and a few clips to showcase your work. E-mail is preferred, but you may send a physical copy to:

C/O John Fleming
Youth Today Newsroom
Kennesaw State University
1000 Chastain Rd.
MD 2212, Bldg 22
Kennesaw, GA 30144

jfleming@youthtoday.org

 

Youth Today

Youth Today
Kennesaw State University
1000 Chastain Rd.
MD 2212, Bldg 22
Kennesaw, GA 30144

 

Writers' Guidelines

All Youth Today news and feature stories are written by journalists on staff or on assignment. Before submitting an idea, please read our guidelines above.

 

Letters to the Editor

Youth Today welcomes comments about youth, youth work and Youth Today stories via mail and e-mail. To be published in Youth Today, it is best for letters to be no more than 400 words. Because we are a trade publication for the youth field, our readers want to know the letter-writers' connection to the field. So please include your name, your city/town and state, and specific information about your work with youth - preferably a job title/description and agency name.

All letters to be considered for publication must include a phone number or e-mail address for verification.

Please send to:

jfleming@youthtoday.org

or

Letters to the Editor
Youth Today Newsroom
Kennesaw State University
1000 Chastain Rd.
MD 2212, Bldg 22
Kennesaw, GA 30144

 

Viewpoints

Youth Today's Viewpoints column features informed commentary about youth and youth work by people in the youth field. To be considered for publication, Viewpoints columns must be written with youth workers in mind, not for the general public. Our readers work in direct services, agency management or policy. They are hungry for new ideas, insightful observations and even controversial suggestions about how youth work is funded, designed and delivered, and about the youth they serve. The columns can be no more than 750 words.

Read sample of Viewpoints.

Please send to:

jfleming@youthtoday.org

or

Viewpoints
Youth Today Newsroom
Kennesaw State University
1000 Chastain Rd.
MD 2212, Bldg 22
Kennesaw, GA 3014

 

Youth Work From the Field

Youth Today shares the first-person stories and experiences of innovative or promising practices at community-based youth-serving agencies. This feature uses a variation of the question-and-answer format to review the program's development, mission, funding and delivery.

Snapshots strives to offer a diversity of program types and to cover different geographic areas.

Read samples of Voices From the Field.

To be considered for publication, send a brief program description, press release or first draft of your story to

rwallack@youthtoday.org

or

Voices From the Field
Youth Today Newsroom
Kennesaw State University
1000 Chastain Rd.
MD 2212, Bldg 22
Kennesaw, GA 30144