Giving a voice to young writers

Shropshire Star sister paper The Shrewsbury Chronicle joined forces with the town's Sixth Form College to shine the spotlight on young writers.

Giving a voice to young writers

Shropshire Star sister paper The Shrewsbury Chronicle joined forces with the town's Sixth Form College to shine the spotlight on young writers.

A group of around 60 English Language students turned newshounds when they took part in a writing competition.

The youngsters joined a workshop with Shropshire Newspapers deputy editor Jon Simcock, who then invited the students to submit either a news story or feature/comment piece for publication in the Chronicle.

Judging has now taken place, with the winning entries coming from 18-year-old Rory Kelly for his news story highlighting problems with Arriva buses, and Chad McDonald, 17, for his comment piece on social networking sites. Each received £50 from the Chronicle.

Head of English Lynne Banks said: "The students thoroughly enjoyed the workshop, and found it very useful. Quite a few would like to pursue a career in journalism so this was a good opportunity for them."

The Chronicle's assistant editor Kim Bennett said: "We always like to give young people a voice in our newspaper, so if there are any more youngsters out there who have a story for us, we would love to hear from them. Just email me at kbennett@shropshirestar.co.uk"

Read Rory and Chad's winning entries on the next two pages.

Bus seatsBus shake-up 'leaves passengers in the cold'

THE falling standards on one Arriva bus route have left passengers out in the cold, sometimes forcing them to wait for up to an hour, it is claimed.

The 96 bus route used to travel from Telford, through Ironbridge and Buildwas and terminate in Shrewsbury. Since September 2009, however, the 96 and the X5, which travelled from Telford to Shrewsbury direct, have merged, along with two other bus routes.

Travellers claim this has caused delays, confusion and anger. Previously, an X5 left Shrewsbury bus station every 30 minutes, allowing quick travel between the two towns. This has now been cut to only one bus an hour. Arriva say the small number of passengers on the service merited this cut, but customers disagree. "It's become dog-eat-dog," one traveller said. "Everyone's out for themselves.

"People push in just to get a place on the bus. Because there's no proper system, they get away with it. Lots of people get left behind and have to wait another hour for a bus."

The 96 service has changed as well – the final bus of the day was put back 10 minutes in September, then another 10 in October, and finally another five just before November – all to 'ensure consistency'. Despite this, after a week passengers said the bus had been late three days out of seven. And this isn't all – one day, a drink spillage had been failed to be cleaned up after four hours of service, it is claimed.

Passengers also say that although other bus routes have started operating from Shrewsbury bus station again, after the explosion on January 3 one bus was still 60 minutes late, without explanation.

Keith Myatt, from Arriva, said: "Our surveys and data that we hold and held prior to introducing the new network last September indicated that the X5 could not sustain a 30min frequency and therefore we chose to reduce the frequency, but also then highlighting to our customers that our two sponsored services, the 96 and 81, which we run in conjunction with Shropshire Council, run to Telford town centre twice an hour.

"We haven't merged the services and there are still two buses in use between Shrewsbury and Telford town centre."

By Rory Kelly

working-on-laptop.jpgLost for words over laptops

EARLY in January Gordon Brown declared a new educational initiative: 'Laptops and broadband for all!'

Of course, there's a multitude of magnificent things you can do on a computer: type up revision notes, research into postmodernism, watch Democracy Live from the BBC, compare schools like sports teams...

Okay, let's get real! Laptops are used for three things: Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. This amounts to joining either offensive or plainly moronic groups on Facebook, stalking Stephen Fry on Twitter and discussing the Nazis in the comment section for a video about the Tweenies on YouTube.

Fast-paced internet has only increased the rate at which sensationalised rubbish can be spread around the internet. It means that nobody communicates properly anymore; everybody is too busy checking Facebook for their latest notification update, and nobody thinks about what they are typing. Well, I've had enough!

It's about time people got up, left the house and undertook a valuable British institution: moaning. Yes, of course you can do this on the internet behind a false name. But that is not the British way –?it needs to be out, loud and proud.

So, do as I did a couple of weeks back: have a neighbourhood pub lunch. You'll hear the latest goss, learn a whole new load of witticisms and help save the local. Plus you'll be helping to revive the beauty of the language and true meaning behind the words.

Perhaps the Government will then realise the importance of words, start to think before they speak and communicate truthfully (okay, that's unlikely – maybe impossible). But a reconnection with the language may help us to expose the true inequalities in society, currently hidden behind a wall of cold governmental jargon.

So, I say don't give out free laptops, instead invite people out for lunch. That way the language can flourish. And instead of a generation of Daniel Lynches we can have a generation of Milnes, Dahls and Fitzgeralds.

By Chad McDonald

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