The Teen Appeal is a city-wide high school newspaper produced monthly by Shelby County Schools students. Funded by a generous grant from the Scripps Howard Foundation, the program brings students to campus to learn reporting, writing, multimedia production,
and other journalism skills. The Commercial Appeal prints and distributes the monthly newspaper.
The Teen Appeal, which will celebrate its 17th year in 2013-2014, remains the only opportunity for most students to work on a high
school newspaper in Memphis, especially those in majority African-American high schools.
Each year, staffers attend a week-long summer camp at the University of Memphis in
which they have the opportunity for intense training from professors and former staffers,
and to interview top newsmakers such as congressional candidate and former mayor Dr.
Willie Herenton and former school superintendant Dr. Kriner Cash.
The Teen Appeal provides a unique opportunity to recruit minorities into the nation’s newsrooms by
introducing them to journalism during high school. It helps high school students develop
skills that are vital to their future success not only in journalism, but in life.
Through their interaction with professionals, including many of our own alumni, Teen Appeal staffers develop role models and an appreciation for the power and importance of
journalism in a democratic society.
Because many of our students come from lower-income homes in the inner city and most
are the first generation to attend college, mentoring is a critical aspect of what
we do. We provide a support system that does not exist for some students in the hope
of keeping these young people on track, both in school and in journalism.
As of 2009, we tracked 83 former staff members who are or have majored in journalism
or mass communication in colleges and universities nationwide. We think it is significant
that 72 of these student journalists are minorities. Many of these staffers are still
working in journalism despite upheaval throughout the industry, and even those now
working in other fields have achieved important successes in a number of ways.