By Melissa Quiter, Editor-in-Chief
When I was a teenager, I had conviction. I had principles. I had passion. I was invincible. I fought for what I believed in. Now I am 38, and I’m pretty tired. In many ways, my world is smaller. My goals are simpler. My fights are with my toddler and not to alleviate the world’s maladies.
Maybe that is why I love working with teenagers – as a high school teacher, a trip leader, and a mentor. Teenagers are at the height of their power and they have the energy to utilize it to its maximum potential. I get to live vicariously through their battles and victories, their struggles and even their failures.
Sadly, however, I keep seeing “the man” try to crush this spirit. “The man” sees teenagers as the enemy, out to cause destruction, harm to others, and even harm to self.
And while yes, teens can be reckless at times, their energy and bravery and spirit need to be celebrated rather than discouraged. Parents, teachers, administrators, authorities of all types and in all colors of uniforms are too often scared of this power, seeing only the potential negative outcomes, rather than its potential for positive change in schools, communities, the world.
The Intuitive Voice was created to give teen journalists and writers (and those who support them) a venue for innovative work that tells stories we don’t see in the mainstream press. It celebrates the Restorative Journalism movement, a term coined by veteran journalist and positive psychology researcher Michelle Gielan, and Restorative Narratives, the means through which Images of Voices and Hope (IVOH) is transforming the media into an agent of positive change. By contributing stories that offer hope and solutions rather than simply propagating fear, The Intuitive Voice is joining this rising tide of responsible, restorative, and complete journalism.
Much like a teenager, the media is a powerful force not given enough opportunity to rise to its greatest potential. The media has been controlled by the adage of “if it bleeds it leads,” because advertisers held the misconception that bad news sells. Gielan’s work offers evidence to the contrary. And even better, journalism that goes beyond disaster stories to the deeper stories of resilience, create a society where people feel hope rather than despair.
And though my evidence of teenagers’ exceptionality is anecdotal, I have 20 years worth of stories demonstrating the ability of teens to foster positive change in their communities and around the world. From a student journalist whose article led to shutting down a dropbox of nude pictures of teenage girls, to groups of teens that raised money and traveled abroad to build village schools, I know countless teens who can and are changing this world for the better.
The changes in journalism don’t stop with the restorative movement. Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Paul Salopek is taking the art of slow journalism to the extreme by taking seven years to walk the route of human migration that began in Africa. He is meeting people along the way and telling their stories, human stories, real stories.
We all need to slow down – teenagers, adults, everyone. For journalists, slowing down leads to uncovering fuller stories which equates with greater perspective in our work. The break-out teen journalists who will be the mainstay contributors to The Intuitive Voice are part of The Intuitive Writing Project, a writing-based self-empowerment program for both teenage girls and women. In this program, the girls will be slowing down to tell important stories that we will feature here.
The Intuitive Voice is a social-action component of The Intuitive Writing Project. The values for this publication are consistent with the values of the organization as a whole, to build a movement of intuitive self-trust, supporting all people to speak from the heart and declare what they know to be true.