Updated: Mar 31, 2020
The Bigger Picture (London) — This is The Bigger Picture, a blog set up by Darcy Miller with the aims of amplifying youth voices in politics, culture and the arts. It will be comprised of political editorials here on our website where teenagers can amplify their own political voices and tell their stories about politics, culture and the arts. We will also be conducting interviews with youth (those aged 12-25) involved in those fields, posting the transcripts here on this website and video content on our YouTube channel. Instagram and Twitter will be used to raise awareness for the blog.
Our organisation, as it stands, is very diverse. We have contributors from places ranging from Taiwan, to Israel, to London, to Indonesia, to Australia, to the United States - people who have all decided to get involved in this youth-based news organisation, and to improve the standing of youth as a whole.
After all, there are scarcely any sites dedicated to amplifying youth voices. When the mainstream media does decide to feature youth, they are generally portrayed in a negative light. 2009 and 2011 reports by the National Youth Agency and the National Children’s Bureau in the UK found that the media’s coverage of young people in the UK was “mainly negative”. A 2014 report by Demos, a UK-based think-tank, revealed that four out of five teenagers feel that negative media coverage of their age group harms their chances of employment. Meanwhile, over in Australia, research by the newspaper Crikey published last month showed that only 1% of newspapers and TV stations there included direct quotes from teenagers during the duration of their research. As Dominique Mitchell, a then 18-year-old, lamented to The Guardian a decade ago, “why aren't we reported on, or our lives documented and televised? It seems that we can only be interesting if we are smoking, snorting or stabbing.”
Since then, however, the tides have shown positive signs, that they may be about to turn. Some of the mainstream media has begun to recognise the amazing work youth activist groups such as UKSCN and XR Youth are doing in terms of their involvement in climate strikes, although some still have outdated, traditionalist attitudes (more on that later). A then 14-year-old, Shibby de Guzman, spoke out against the populist President of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, despite the climate of fear and repression he has created through his crackdowns on civil rights and freedoms in the country. She was then recognised as one of TIME’s most influential teenagers. Scores of young musicians have shot to prominence over the last few years, such as Billie Eilish, the 17-year-old described by NME as “the most talked-about teen on the planet”, and Brian Imanuel, alias Rich Brian, who became a viral sensation as a 16-year-old with the 2016 moody rap hit Dat $tick, which accumulated tens of millions of streams online. Millions of teenagers have become involved in political activism, from anti-Brexit protests to global climate strikes that have mobilised millions of schoolchildren across the globe. The figurehead of the strikes, Greta Thunberg, has become a household name worldwide, racking up millions of followers on social media and inspiring others to follow her lead. As one writer recently put it in the Guardian, she is “old enough to scare the world” and the neoliberal corporatist establishment.
Yet there are still signs of traditional attitudes, as the world is obviously not perfect. Government officials have dismissed youth climate protesters as “bunking off” from school to attend strikes, claiming the strikes are “disruptive”, and the Right have popularised conspiracy theories that 16-year-old Greta Thunberg is somehow “being used” by her parents. There are still thousands, even millions, of teenagers out there doing amazing things: producing technically gifted poetry, artwork, music or photography; advocating political causes that matter; making real, positive impacts in local communities. But all too often, these accomplishments fly under the radar. The mainstream media is an impenetrable barrier for most teenagers - indeed, I have had to turn to left field outlets such as the Shingetsu News Agency to get my voice heard - and hence many teenagers turn to social media as a platform from which to express their political beliefs. This often starts debates which can sometimes be intellectual and enlightening but more often than not devolve into overemotional arguing filled with shaky logic and misinformation.
The Bigger Picture, then, is hoping to capitalise on those positive signs, to create the waves of positive change. We are hoping to improve the standing of teenagers worldwide, to provide a platform so the next generation can get their voices heard. It will also help youth develop their political voice - unlike misinformation-filled social media rants, all writers will have to provide a coherent, structured, fact-based narrative, and will have to provide a source list at the bottom of every article (note: see the bottom of this article for its MLA source list).
However, to get youth voices heard, we need to grow our standing and popularity so that The Bigger Picture can be a truly effective platform for teenagers. If you enjoy our work and mission, it would be much appreciated if you, as a reader, could share this blog on social media, and follow our Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube accounts. We also have a Quora space in the works.
We encourage applications to become involved as a writer or a graphic designer, who will produce the media for our social media pages. We also encourage readers to feature their own work in The Bigger Picture, whether it be a full-length feature article, an interview, or through posts on our social media. See our “applications page” on this site to learn more about these opportunities.
Stay tuned for more articles over the coming weeks, months, and years.