Last week, members of The Contour’s Editorial Board met YJI Executive Director Jackie Majerus and YJI Board President Steve Collins at The Lawrenceville School to receive YJI’s 2016 Courage In Journalism Award. The award is given to an individual youth journalist, journalism educator, or student newspaper that showed particular courage in pursuing a story despite danger, official roadblocks, or other unusual obstacles. It is one of the organization’s highest honors. While the award was created seven years ago, this is only the third time YJI felt an entry merited the honor.
As Published on The Lawrenceville School Website:
Founded by Allison Huang ’17, Scott Newman ’17, and Haruka Noishiki ’17 (and advised by History Master Erik Chaput), The Contour is a twice-weekly global affairs news magazine. The editorial board is made up of international students that hail from Bolivia, Brazil, Ghana, Japan, Nigeria, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Turkey, and Vietnam. Editors are committed to widening the global perspectives of students at Lawrenceville by bringing their own experiences to the table.
“It is actually such a huge, huge honor to be recognized by such an expansive organization and frankly we are so lucky to be picked out from among many amazing candidates,” said Huang. “I spent about an hour jumping off the walls and telling everyone associated with The Contour. We were all really happy.”
Jackie Majerus told Contour editors, “We’re really proud of you for pushing through and making The Contour happen. I’m really impressed with all of you. It’s so heartwarming to us to know that you are trying to drive your peer’s attention to what’s going on in the rest of the world outside the campus, even though there is a lot going on here. It’s really important for you all to be global citizens.”
Huang said The Contour editors have been “… especially courageous in taking on the responsibilities and playing the roles in the School community that are necessary but often go unheralded. In other words, when we first founded The Contour, we knew that we wanted the publication to be a reliable news source for its readers. How could we ensure this? By outsourcing international students whose experiences have a legitimacy that cannot be matched by non-natives; that is why our editorial board consists of international students.”
Those students joined The Contour because, according to Huang, they felt strongly about clearing up common misconceptions about cultural and political truths in their respective countries. “Their work with The Contour is an extension of their courage to speak up and clarify, to advocate that fellow students stay informed and know that globalization is an important and influential reality,” said Huang. “I know that this is hard to do in an environment where, by contrast, everyone is from the U.S. and the easier thing to do is assimilate and stifle the part of the identity that is different and unique.”
Majerus said she feels The Contour plays a particularly important role at Lawrenceville because so many Lawrentians will emerge as leaders in their chosen fields. “It’s important for them to know about the world they live in. We have to encourage young people to look across borders – race, religion, national origin, anything that separates us – to find common ground and even understanding. If you don’t have anything in common, you might at least develop an appreciation for someone else’s point of view.The Contour is encouraging students to take an interest in what’s happening outside of the wonderful life they are having on this campus.”
Founded in 1994 by two veteran reporters, the non-profit YJI works with hundreds of students across the globe, ages 12-24. Student work is published on online by YJI and sometimes appears in other news outlets (including the PBS NewsHour Extra), on radio shows, and in text books. Each spring, YJI spotlights the best work by teen reporters, artists, and photographers through its Excellence in Journalism contest.