Free Speech & Peace

Young Voices: Training aspiring pro-liberty journalists to succeed in today’s media climate 

April 27, 2023

The internet has changed media — everyone knows this. Gaining attention in the media today requires more than being an expert on a relevant topic. Rising journalists and media voices today must also know how to package their work so that their messages are visible in a vast online media world driven by clicks, shares, and sound bites.    

Young Voices, a grantee of Stand Together Trust, has provided rising principled, pro-liberty journalists with the guidance and connections they need to become a voice that stands out online and in media. Describing themselves as classical liberal, Young Voices believes in “the importance of free speech, property rights, the rule of law, free trade of goods and labor, and low taxation and regulation.” They take a “big-tent approach to coalition building,’ welcoming a healthy debate among their participants and alumni.  

Individuals who have participated in Young Voices programming have gone on to become editors at publications like Reason, Washington Examiner, and the Foundation for Economic Education, and have had their writing published in outlets like The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, The Telegraph, The Atlantic, National Review, and the Boston Globe. They’ve become occasional or regular contributors on networks like Fox News, Fox Business, BBC, and more. Some have gone on to build new, innovative media platforms, start new podcasts, and leverage their media experience for work in think tanks and policy advising. 

With more than 300 aspiring writers and commentators who have gone through its Contributor Program since 2013, Young Voices is a prominent influencer shaping the online media space for principled, pro-liberty thinkers today.  

How Young Voices works 

Young Voices says the Contributor Program is the “cornerstone of [their] operations.” Twice a year, aspiring writers ages 18-35 can apply for the six-month program which  effectively acts as a public relations agency for writers.  

 The application process is rigorous. Young Voices editors are looking for bright, promising writers and commentators with something fresh to say and talent to develop. These potential contributors may range from media novices to published writers. Still, candidates must be interested in honing their skills and learning techniques to break into the media industry with aptitude and expertise. Young Voices screens applicants to cultivate a diverse array of experts on various relevant issues — all of whom must demonstrate a passion for liberty and a commitment to the betterment of society through their discourse and media contributions. 

Once admitted to the Contributor Program, writers submit op-ed drafts to the Young Voices editorial team regularly for review, editing, and pitching to their wide range of media outlet contacts. Remote training is held frequently on writing, media appearances, and journalistic principles. Contributors are coached by Young Voices expert staff to make their drafts marketable to their dream publishers and broadcasters. Here, writers gain invaluable coaching on message crafting and pitching to national print and broadcast outlets.   

“It has never been easier for young thinkers to succeed at media,” says Young Voices’ Managing Editor Aaron Andrews. “All they really need is someone to give them a boost or a leg up. And that’s what we do at Young Voices. Through hands-on editing, pitching and media coaching, we act as a springboard for the next generation of aspiring media voices. We’re sending the message of liberty to new heights.” 

The support of Young Voices continues even after the six-month Contributor Program ends. Contributors connect to a vibrant alum network comprising hundreds of past participants. This is the ultimate networking resource for young media professionals, including their up-and-coming peers and notable previous alums who are now at the top of the industry.   

After six months in the Contributor Program, participants can apply for additional guidance through Young Voices’ Advanced Tracks. These programs provide: 

  • Additional expert guidance in op-ed writing through the Writer Track 
  • Coaching for appearances on TV, radio, and podcasts, and also pitching by the Young Voices PR team to TV networks, radio shows, and podcast hosts through the Commentator Track 
  • Training in public speaking and assistance booking speaking engagements with student groups, think tanks, and others through the Speaker Track. 

In short, Young Voices describes itself as a “one-stop-shop for aspiring intellectuals to build their brand and develop their expertise as advocates for market solutions.” The evidence  can be seen in the impressive careers of some of their alumni. 

The impact of Young Voices 

Young Voices is launching aspiring journalists into positions where what they’ve learned about journalism, effective online messaging, and more can be integrated into the operations of longstanding publications.  

“When I first joined Young Voices, I was just a college sophomore without much direction,” says alumna Fiona Harrigan. “Young Voices gave me the tools and space to explore my interests, all while getting me published in national outlets. Thanks to the resume and confidence I was able to build as a Young Voices contributor, I’m now an editor at Reason, the premier libertarian media outlet. Without Young Voices, I would be nowhere near as sure of myself and my professional path as I am now.” 

Emma Ayers, who runs the External Relations department at Young Voices, has a clear view of the impact alumni have, so often, on policy. “Our people are the ones out there putting in the hustle, bringing with them the skills they honed in our program,” she says. “Plenty of people have good ideas on how to make society better. Our alumni are equipped to communicate those ideas in a way that actually makes a difference.” 

Young Voices has worked with contributors who eventually have gone on to transform how journalists produce media that promotes free markets, liberty, and other principled issues of the day. Take for example Brad Polumbo, a participant in Young Voices programming and former opinion editor at The Washington Examiner

“Young Voices introduced me to the media world and opened the door to opportunities I could never have imagined,” Brad says. Today, he is a co-founder of BASEDPolitics, a new media company with a goal to “make liberty go viral.” That’s why BASEDPolitics, also a grantee of STT, is leveraging the power of social media to “advance free markets and individual liberty,” by surfacing effective and persuasive social media influencers and equipping them with the best facts about the issues of the day. 

“Millions are being influenced on TikTok and other social media platforms,” Brad told STT in November 2022, emphasizing the need for principled, pro-liberty journalists and media companies to consider more than just articles and cable news hits when producing work.    

Young Voices refuses to grow stagnant as media changes like the tide — Young Voices changes with it. “We’re working to make sure we’re keeping up with the trends that people are engaging with. We don’t want to get stuck in one way of doing things,” Emma Ayers says. “We’re seeing a shift to Substack, so we’re now working on shifting our programming to accommodate that. Young folks are influenced by TikTok, so we’re going to be training our people on how to make compelling video. There’s no way we’re sitting still as the world turns. There’s always something to learn.” 

To learn more about Young Voices, visit