Molly Hardesty-Moore is an everyday woman living in Nevada County, CA. In January 2011, the seventeen-year old senior at Nevada Union High School, along with her mother, film-producer Anne Moore, and her famous uncle, Academy Award-winning filmmaker Michael Moore, launched “High School Newspaper”, an online newspaper and open forum for students to share, discuss and debate the issues that matter the most to them. For the next six months, Hardesty-Moore will serve as the site’s editor, recruiting and cultivating blogs, videos, music and more from other high school students around the world that like her, are interested in current events and making a positive impact in their world. After only three weeks, High School Newspaper features some very thoughtful and provoking commentary on topics like the recent uprising in Egypt, Wikileaks and constitutional rights from students in Grass Valley and as far away as the East Coast and Japan. As Hardesty-Moore points out, the high schoolers of today are the leaders of the future.
How did “High School Newspaper" come about?
It took the combined thought process of myself, my mom and my uncle (Michael Moore). He wanted to offer his website as a platform for teens. We’d been talking about young people and the need to get this generation more involved in politics when the idea formed. Personally, I really like to talk about politics and social issues, and I am so excited when I find a peer that shares this interest. We hope that the High School Newspaper will be a place for teenagers to talk to other teenagers with a similar interest in politics and that it will get young people thinking about the world they live in.
How did you get involved?
I got involved when my mom and my uncle suggested that the editor of the website be a teenager, and it be staffed entirely by teens. I immediately volunteered to help create it. We worked with a designer and developer for a few months kicking around ideas and looking at what else was out there on line.
What's your roll and duties with the website?
My role is to be the editor, which means I look over blogs other kids have written, edit them, and publish them when they are ready. I also manage other content, find videos, music groups, topics of the week, and stories for the “What’s up with this?” section of the site. Recruiting other teens to help with this is a big part of my job now.
Is there a staff helping you or is everyone mostly volunteer?
My Uncle Michael has a professional web editor and infrastructure that we plugged into and my mom, his producer, helps with logistics. Michael’s website, www.MichaelMoore.com hosts The High School Newspaper so we have no overhead. His site has very high traffic, especially with the young adults. All the teens working on High School Newspaper are volunteers and the content will be mostly user-generated. Any teen is encouraged to contribute, comment, create, innovate or just check things out. We would love to have teens that know web design or are interested in all the cutting edge social media stuff to help out, too. We can do anything we want with this site.
Where you always interested in journalism?
Not really. I write for the alternative newspaper at my high school called the NU Underground, but I am more interested in political activism and providing a place for others to get involved and have some fun.
What are some of the topics you will focus on?
We want to focus on every topic that is of interest (or should be of interest) to young people. So far we have heard from kids about education, the situation in Egypt, Wikileaks, and many other topics. Anything that teens want to talk about, we want to talk about!
How do you come up with the topic of the week?
So far, I have been coming up with the topics on my own, from what I have been reading in the news or hearing other kids talk about. This will shift as the word gets out and any teen can join and submit topic ideas.
There are also featured videos and music on the website. How important is multi-media to communicating with young people?
Multimedia is extremely important these days. We are a visual generation. YouTube, Facebook, MySpace and Twitter are powerful tools of communication and 93% of young people use the internet, some three fourths use Social Networking. I can’t imagine communicating without it, and I believe it can be beneficial to society. Young people can use it to organize and trade information, or, as seen with Egypt, all that, and, help start a revolution.
What is it like growing up today with so much technology and 24-hour news coverage? What kind of impact does it have on high schoolers?
Well, I am not sure what it would be like without all this technology, but it definitely makes everything easier. Some people worry that the obsession with technology will keep young people from living their real lives, and maybe that is true. But as I said before, I think the technology could actually help high schoolers become involved. Look at what just happened in Egypt. Or, in Madison, Wisconsin. (See video on High School Newspaper). A free and open internet is a great –you can socialize, create, learn and yes, help start a revolution—how about one with no further climate change?!
What do you hope the website accomplishes or creates?
I hope it will create an online community of teenagers who care about the world and want to change it for the better. I hope it will get kids thinking more, talking more, and involving themselves more.
On the website there are links to upcoming events and other ways for students to get involved. How important is it that not only students, but everyone be actively involved in their communities?
Very important. Without people taking an interest in their local communities, nothing beneficial can get done. We need to keep an eye on our politicians and government, and if something is happening that we don’t like, protest! This is our country, our communities, and we have a say in what happens here. Teens and young people love to participate and being involved gives you a sense of purpose.
What has the overall response been from students and adults? And were you surprised by it?
So far, we have had more students submitting blogs and joining the website than I expected, which is great. We are doing a big launch in the next week on Twitter and Facebook. We get some amazing feedback, and will be adding sections to the site based on what teens want to see there. The adults (especially Uncle Mike) are very enthusiastic and have been respectful that the High School Newspaper is solely for teens & young adults, which is what I hoped would happen. Still, I hope even more teenagers will come to the site and start some great debates and offer their musings, ideas, video and help.
Why is it necessary for high schoolers to have a platform to speak from? And why should people listen?
High schoolers have a lot of opinions, and a lot they would like to complain about. These opinions are just as valid as any adult’s, not to mention that the high schoolers of today are the leaders of the future. I personally believe many young people have brilliant ideas that need to be heard and taken seriously.
If you looked into your crystal ball what would you predict for the future? For you, the website and in general?
I predict that this country cannot continue on as it has been: the economy may get better now but it will not remain that way for long, and the endless war on terror will come back to bite us in the butt sooner or later. Young people will have to find a way to adjust to the changing world and climate. I hope this website will be a building-block for young people to come together and solve the problems of our future. And as for myself, I will be right in the middle of all this, helping to run the website and hoping to change the world.
Between your studies, extra curricular activities and life as a high school senior, how do you find time to run High School Newspaper?
Honestly, I just make a list of priorities, and lately some things have been sacrificed in order to do what I feel is important. So, maybe not all of my homework is getting done, but at least I feel like I’m doing something more productive.
What would your message be to women around the world?
Men are not in charge anymore, now it’s our turn to rise to power and try to fix the mess this world is in. We welcome all men who wish to work in a truly democratic egalitarian fashion.
How can people get involved?
Go to www.michaelmoore.com and click on The High School Newspaper banner. Join today by getting your User Account (takes maybe 30 seconds). Or, send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Also: Coming soon to Nevada County open / free to all teenagers:
We are planning to offer to teens micro-workshops on How to Create Website Content & Edit for publication. Also, we will offer one-day workshops on how to make a short film. These fun workshops will be presented by professional filmmakers with teen journalists, no experience required. Stay tuned on michaelmoore.com.