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TBS Next Gen: Creating the articulated voices of tomorrow

Do you fancy yourself as a journalist of tomorrow but are unsure where to start? Perhaps the Next Gen program is for you.



The Big Smoke: Next Gen matches professional and experienced writers, academics and journalists with students who wish to write non-fiction articles and voice their opinions on what is shaping the nation, and have those articles published on Australia’s leading opinion site. If you are aged 8-18 and have something to say about the world we live in, we’d love to hear from you.

Here’s what Josie Jakovac, a Next Gen alumnus, has to say about her experience in the program.


Josie Jakovac

“Passion: A powerful sensation that overwhelms and excites, lending to life a certain vibrancy and colour that makes one’s time on earth so memorable.”

Adolescence is a well-known time for experimentation, for trial and error. A period where we’re encouraged to leave our safe haven of “normalcy” in search of new things that excite, that inspire, that ignite a fire in our chests. For me, one of those things is writing.

At the ripe-old-age of five, I wrote my first proper piece of prose. Presumably moved by a spell of sadness (which is bizarre because the worst thing that happened to me in kindy was the “lolly thief” stealing milkbottles from my purple lunch-box), the story described the tensions of a dog and his master, and how the balance between ownership and friendship tore them apart. Yes, it was surprisingly complex for someone who’d just learnt the alphabet. And yes, I won some literary medal for it, but that’s not the point. It was from that moment that I knew I wanted to be a writer.

Poetry creates the myth, the prose writer draws its portrait.
– Jean-Paul Sartre

School allowed me to explore many forms of writing from poetry, fiction and non-fiction to academic essays, speeches and debates. Yet the art in “article” remained alien to me. Being part of TBS Next Gen, however, remedied this hole in my learning.

As an alumnus of the program, I am so grateful for the platform and one-on-one mentoring I received. Next Gen enabled me to research and present my views on topics of interest including “gender-biases” in the legal profession, our housing affordability crisis and police-youth interactions in New South Wales to hundreds, if not thousands of people. For the first time, I began to feel like I was contributing to the “bigger picture”, rather than just classroom small-talk or casual dinner discussions. When else would a child be able to directly interview local police officers or speak to the most successful barristers in the country? Next Gen did all this for me and more.

On a superficial level, Next Gen gave me the unexplainable, novel thrill that comes with Googling your name and seeing results about what you’ve done come up as a top search result.

On a deeper level, the program taught me how to be “news savvy”, sorting fake and unreliable information from what’s authentic. It taught me how to write quickly yet precisely, managing my time between assessment and publication deadlines. And I can safely say this drastically boosted my performance during the HSC.

Words are a lens to focus one’s mind.
– Ayn Rand

Although the idea of publicly publishing articles was daunting at first, I was paired with a mentor who guided me every step of the way. I’ve always aspired to be a lawyer – a career path which I feel perfectly fuses my energy, interest in current affairs, love of public-speaking and my passion for writing. What’s amazing is that Next Gen took this into consideration and linked me with none other than Ugur Nedim, Principal of Sydney Criminal Lawyers, who I still remain in contact with today. He was (and continues to be) a wonderful mentor and role model. Crafting pieces with him specifically gave me legal insights, which not only made my pieces better, but fuelled my passion to get into Sydney Law.

Writing is its own reward.
– Henry Miller

I would definitely recommend this experience to all kids who have a love for writing, have a lot to say, want to be part of the “big picture” and want to meet others who share the same ambitions. My only regret is not starting TBS: Next Gen earlier.



The Big Smoke Next Gen is a program which matches professional and experienced writers, academics and journalists with students who wish to write non-fiction articles and voice their opinions on what is shaping the nation.

For more information about our program at The Big Smoke, or to become a mentor, please contact us.


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