The original Youth Speak News team with then Youth Editor Paula Antonello, fourth from left. YSN will be taking its place on The Register’s website moving forward. Photo courtesy Paula Antonello

Ground-breaking YSN finds a new home online

  • September 28, 2022

The Catholic Register’s popular Youth Speak News feature will evolve into a vibrant new online platform over the coming months to meet teenage and young adult Catholics where they live.

More details will be shared about the design of this online presence, and the content that will populate the platform, in the weeks ahead. However, it can be stated that this new iteration of YSN will invite contributors to fully tap into their digital skillsets to unleash innovative multimedia creations.

YSN will no longer have a page in the print version of The Catholic Register as part of this evolution starting with the Oct. 9 edition.

Quinton Amundson, The Register’s Youth Editor since 2020, said this action should not be perceived as a diminishment of youth stories and journalists in the hard copy edition of Canada’s largest Catholic newspaper. Quite the contrary. This adaptation is expected to bolster the presence of youth-related content within the pages of The Catholic Register.

“The faith-guided activities and initiatives spearheaded by dynamic Catholic teenagers and young adults account for some of the most exciting stories in Catholic storytelling today. We don’t want to limit important journalism about the next generation of Christian leaders — the lifeblood of Canadian Catholicism — to a single page,” said Amundson.

Amundson said members of the YSN team over the past several years are being invited to become freelance reporters for The Catholic Register.

This new chapter for YSN launches over 22 years since Paula Antonello conceived the idea in the year 2000.

Antonello said YSN was founded “in response to a desire to hear more from the voice of Catholic youth.”

“We wanted to know how their Catholic faith shaped their daily lives, experiences and relationships,” wrote the novelist and assistant manager of The Belleville Club in Belleville, Ont.

Youth Speak News debuted on pages six and seven in the March 6, 2000 edition. Anne Bacani, Desmond Devoy, Holly Haveruk, Lily Kalcevich and Walter Sanchez comprised the inaugural YSN writing staff.

Antonello worked alongside the publisher-editor of The Catholic Register at the time, Joseph Sinasac, to teach these budding writers interviewing and editing techniques and offer them detailed editorial feedback for their written submissions. Antonello wrote that these students “came to learn that a Catholic faith life could in fact enhance a career in journalism.”

Members of this original team graduated onto careers in journalism, education, graphic design and communications.

“I look back on that time with great fondness,” wrote Antonello. “I was a part of something ground-breaking. It was not only an incredible growth experience for the youth I managed, but also for me as well. It was the first time I had the opportunity to truly witness the Catholic faith I grew up with, vibrantly alive and well in the next generation.”

Antonello credits the YSN team’s success with providing immersive, on-the-ground coverage of World Youth Day 2002 in Toronto as instrumental in forging the YSN page’s longevity and vitality.

Fast forwarding to the present day, more than 100 teenagers and young adults have now been enriched by the YSN experience, some even joining The Register as reporters, and the brand has earned acclaim in Catholic journalism circles. YSN has been feted at the North American Catholic Press Awards and Canadian Church Press Awards various times over the past two decades.

Antonello has one wish for YSN as it undergoes a metamorphosis

“It is my prayerful hope that the next generation of Youth Speak News reporters, diving more fully into the digital world, will be able to maintain the passion not only for the written word but a deep and meaningful faith. That they may be fearless and boldly express their moral and honest voices in a world filled with chaotic distractions and temptations to give up religion altogether. I wish YSN 2.0 true success.”

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