Have your news, and social media too

Student-created online newspaper aims to tap into youth perspective with creative format


The world of news may be changing quickly — but that doesn’t mean young people should be left behind in the fray.

With this ideal in mind, fourth-year Engineering student Frank Aikhu and fourth-year College student Nenneya Shields co-founded online newspaper “JumbleTalk,” which acts as an opportunity for people ages 17 to 27 to make their voices heard on relevant issues through coverage of news stories from around the world.

These “jumblers,” the term Aikhu and Shields used to describe citizen journalists who contribute articles to the newspaper, are “very conscious about the world [and] have comments that stimulate thought,” Shields said.

Aikhu and Shields explained news is often told from the perspective of older generations. Their project started when they realized that through social media, there lies an opportunity to present a more holistic perspective of current events.

“So much social media is for leisure,” Shields said. “JumbleTalk is [an] outlet to use social media in a productive way.”

Shields said the site’s ability to act as both a social and constructive medium is particularly effective for the age group it targets. According to a Pew Research Center survey, 83 percent of individuals age 19 to 29 use some form of social media. Because of this trend the developers created a forum for voice and discussion — both with a significant amount of freedom.

“[We] are giving them an opportunity to write about whatever they want to write about,” Shields said.

Although JumbleTalk individually selects writers to publish on their website, Shields said their young journalists must “produce competent content” for the general public.

Aikhu and Shields originally conceived the idea for JumbleTalk when discussing their desire to engage the internationally dispersed Nigerian student population. No strangers to the importance of international news, both are at least part Nigerian and have either lived or regularly travelled abroad.

Developed this semester, JumbleTalk remains a relatively new experiment, though metrics show the site is already generating significant attention.

Within its first two hours online, a featured article reached an audience of more than 700 on Facebook alone. By the end of the day, the page had 1,000 views.

“It’s a long-term project,” Shields said, “We got it rolling. We got so much done, but more still needs to be done. We’re confident it’s going somewhere.”

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