Could you tell us what you want to achieve as Young Post’s Editor?
I was appointed as the head of Young Post (YP) last year. It is my vision to use news as an educational tool, to help young readers make sense of the world around them, and of course, to help them learn English.
How has Young Post evolved over the years?
Young Post’s history can be traced back to 1951. At the time, it was a Sunday publication under South China Morning Post (SCMP) called the Children’s Corner, and was relaunched as Young Post some years later. For many years, YP was a daily publication delivered to schools.
The Post is committed to delivering content that matters to our readers and to keeping up with an ever-changing society. We conducted a thorough review last year to see how we could update our offerings and bring our content closer to our readers’ heart. In the past, each daily edition was aimed at a different audience, but the feedback we received from teachers was that they want a meatier read and stories that have a longer shelf life. This is why we decided to turn it into a 24-page weekly edition, with a very exciting mix of content. The new weekly edition gives us more time to develop original content that young people can learn from and enjoy, as well as strengthen our engagement with readers.
We cover serious issues in Hong Kong and international news, write about outstanding teens all around the world, and interview various celebrities. Our reporting makes a strong impact on our readers. For example, we did a news feature on the plight of local cleaners who saw an unbearable rise in their workload during the pandemic, and asked students to think twice before they bin something. We have also written about the challenges Chinese students face while studying overseas during the pandemic, giving them a place to voice their concerns about the rise in anti-Asian hate crimes.
We have also interviewed Hong Kong singers such as Tyson Yoshi, Jace Chan and Gareth T., as well as Lizzo from the US. Some of our readers love our coverage so much that we see them sharing YP’s print copies on Instagram. It’s fantastic to know how much our readers enjoy the new YP. Even with school being conducted online and the early summer break, we are still going to print, publishing via e-Paper for the time being.
What are the new pages or changes you have brought to Young Post?
As we are now a weekly newspaper, we ought to stay in touch and give readers and teachers more materials to work with online. So the first change for the new YP was for print and digital to be better integrated. QR codes on our articles lead readers to more information on our website, as well as vocabulary boxes.
We have a lot of study tools as well, including more listening and comprehension exercises. Our in-house education experts design these worksheets to help teachers. For all of our feature stories in Talking Points, teachers can download the worksheets as PDF files and use them in the classroom to test their students’ understanding of the articles. To make the experience of learning English more fun, we have also introduced linked Kahoot! games and embed them in a few articles each week.
We love to hear directly from students, so we have expanded our letters page, Your Voice, to two print pages every week so that we can present a wide range of views and allow students to speak up on things they care about. Teachers can also use these pages as a class exercise and have students write in to see who gets published. We have more interactive reads for students to send in their creative writing and captions too. There is a weekly writing challenge called Brain Game, and the prizes for the top three winners of each season include a Nintendo Switch, a Kindle, Muji vouchers, and an awesome YP trophy! We are lucky to be sponsored by Sino Group, which enables us to give away such awesome prizes. Since the launch, we have received hundreds of emails every week from students who want to be published in YP!
There is also a Best of Month Award that is designed to recognise some of the outstanding letters and creative submissions we receive every month. Each winner gets a Young Post certificate and a special Young Post notebook.
We recognise that mental health and overall wellness are important topics for teens, so we have brought together a panel of experts to respond to queries from our readers, who can write in to our advice column about whatever issues they face.
On the lighter side of things, we have comics, infographics, a Cantonese slang page, and a page on the latest trends. Because of all these remarkable changes, subscription numbers have increased significantly this year compared to last year, and website traffic has reached record highs as well.
Recently, the Education Bureau announced an early summer holiday for students as the city fights the fifth wave of COVID-19. Many students have written to us to express their frustration on missing out on school and being isolated at home. Team YP has taken up the mission to help them to stay connected and provide them with a sense of togetherness. We have rolled out three special events:
1. An Instagram workout challenge;
2. A weekly podcast called Snack for the Soul, in which a student offers a glimpse into their life during the pandemic and shares something they have learned; and
3. A live action online game our reporter Sue will host in English once a month.
What should PR professionals be aware of when they make a pitch to you?
I am happy to stay connected and discuss stories with anyone who has a topic that is interesting and relevant to teens and language learning. Do drop me an email or send a message to email@example.com