Every year since 2010 we have invited teenagers around the world to add The New York Times to their summer reading lists and, so far, nearly 50,000 have.
At a time when teachers are looking for ways to offer students more “voice and choice,” we hope our open-ended contest can help: Every week, we ask participants to choose something in The Times that has sparked their interest, then tell us why. At the end of the week, judges from the Times newsroom pick favorite responses, and we publish them here. It’s as simple as that.
Though our goals include some on many educators’ lists — helping students become more aware of the world and their place in it, learning how to navigate sophisticated nonfiction, and practicing writing for a real audience — we also just hope that students will realize that reading the newspaper can be fun.
As you’ll see in the guidelines below, they can choose literally anything they like that was published on NYTimes.com in 2019. We don’t care if they pick a piece about politics or pythons, golf or “Game of Thrones,” Qatar or the Kardashians, robots, racing, recipes or the royal baby; we just care about why they chose it.
Interested? All the details you need are below, and this handy PDF summarizes them on one page.
Q. How does this contest work?
• Every Friday beginning June 14, we will publish a post here asking the same two questions: “What interested you most in The Times this week?” and “Why?.” You can always find that link at the top of this page since we’ll post it there every week.
• Teenagers can post an answer any week until Friday, Aug. 23, and contestants can choose from any Times article, essay, video, interactive, podcast or photograph published in 2019, on any topic they like.
• Every Tuesday starting July 2 we will announce winners from a previous week and publish their writing.
• To get an idea of the breadth of topics students have chosen in the past — from refugees and “post-truth politics” to accents and awkwardness — you can read the work of our 2017 and 2018 winners here, and our 2010-2016 winners here.
• Scroll down to find more details and tips, the most important of which are also on this one-page PDF.
• More questions? Here are some that have been frequently asked over the years, but please post anything else you’d like to know in the comments, or write to us at LNFeedback@nytimes.com, and we’ll answer you there.
Q. What kinds of responses are you looking for?
A. We don’t care what you choose or whether you loved or hated it; what we care about is what you have to say about why you picked it.
If you don’t believe us, scroll through our 2017 and 2018 winners, or, via our old blog, view the work of winners from 2010 to 2016.
They have written on weighty topics like gender, race and identity, space exploration and 21st-century concentration camps, but they have also written on power napping, junk food, Beyoncé, Disney shows, running and bagels.
Whatever the subject, you’ll see that the best pieces year after year make both personal connections to the news and go beyond the personal to discuss the broader questions and ideas that the topic raises.
So whether you were moved by an article, enlightened by an essay, bowled over by a photo, irked by an editorial or inspired by a video, find something in The Times that genuinely interests you and tell us why, as honestly and originally as you can.
Q. What are the rules?
A. First, here is a one-page PDF summarizing the rules. Please share.
• We will post the same questions every Friday, starting June 14. Each week we will ask, “What interested you most in The Times this week? Why?” That is where you should post your picks (and reasons) any time until the next Friday. Then we will close that post to comments and open a new one with the same questions. That means that students can write in on any day until Friday, Aug. 23, at 7 a.m. Eastern when the contest ends. As soon as the contest starts, we will keep an up-to-date link to that week’s question at the top of this page.
• You can choose from anything published in the print paper or on NYTimes.com in 2019, including videos, graphics, slide shows and podcasts.
• Feel free to participate any or every week, but we allow only one submission per person per week.
• Our commenting system allows responses up to 1,500 characters, which is somewhere between 250 and 300 words.
• Make sure to provide us with the full URL or headline (for example, “How to Deal With a Jerk Without Being a Jerk” or https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/05/smarter-living/how-to-deal-with-a-jerk-without-being-a-jerk.html).
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• The children and stepchildren of New York Times employees, or teenagers who live in the same household as a Times employee, are not eligible to participate.
• New for 2019: Our eligible age ranges have changed slightly in response to new data-protection rules in the European Union.
Students in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom must be between 13 to 19 years old to participate. However, if you are submitting from anywhere else in the world, you must be between 16 to 19 years old. Please see The New York Times’s terms of service for more details.
Q. Who will be judging my work?
A. The Learning Network staff, plus a team of as-yet-to-be-named New York Times journalists.
Q. When should I check to see whether my submission won?
A. Every Tuesday from July 2 to Sept. 3, we will publish a previous week’s winner or winners in a separate article you can find here. We will also celebrate the winners on Twitter and Facebook.
Q. How do I participate in this contest if I don’t have a digital subscription?
A. NYTimes.com has a digital subscription system in which readers have free access to five articles each month. If you exceed that limit, you will be asked to become a digital subscriber.
One thing you should know, however, is that all Learning Network posts for students, as well as all Times articles linked from them, are accessible without a digital subscription. That means that if you use any of the articles we have linked to on our site for summer reading, they will not count as part of the five-article limit.
Plus, each week when we pose our question, “What interested you most in The Times this week?,” we will link to about 25 recent articles across sections that you can choose from if you don’t have your own subscription.
You can also find The New York Times at most public libraries, and some even allow you to access NYTimes.com with your library card.
And remember: You can use anything published anytime in 2019.
Q. How do I prove to my teacher that I participated?
A. When you comment, make sure to check the box that asks if you would like to be emailed when your comment is published.
If you do so, the system will send you a link to your comment, which you can use to show your teacher, your parents, your friends or anyone else you’d like to impress.
Please note that you will not get an email until the comment has been approved, which may take up to 48 hours over weekends.
Another method? Some teachers ask students to take screenshots of their comments before they hit “submit,” then gather those all together at the end of the summer.
Q. How can teachers, librarians and parents use this challenge?
A. Through the years, adults have told us over and over that participating in this contest has made their students both more aware of and more interested in what’s going on in the world. Many see it as a low-stakes way to help teenagers start building a news-reading habit.
If that’s not enough of a reason to assign it, our contest is also an easy way to add more nonfiction to your students’ reading lists — and to encourage teenagers to make their own choices about what to read, as anything published in The Times in 2019 is fair game.
Participating also meets the recommendations given in this joint statement on independent reading given by the International Reading Association, the National Council of Teachers of English, and the Canadian Children’s Book Centre.
But maybe the most compelling reason to assign this contest is what students themselves say about it. Reflecting on participating in 2017, a teenager named Emma Weber, from London, told us:
Prior to this summer, the only writing I did was for school assignments or Google searches. And if I did get around to it, I never reread what I wrote. That’s why, as the weeks went on, I surprised myself when I began double and triple checking my comments for mistakes, of which there were far more than expected!
Another transformation is my newfound interest in the news. I used to be the kind of person who opened a newspaper and went straight to the puzzles section, and though that may be unchanged, I now feel compelled to read a few articles that catch my eye too. In return, exposing myself to current affairs has fine-tuned my political opinions, and through consistent writing I learned to express them in a way that accentuates them.
The result? I feel grounded in my views and understand what’s going on in the world. It’s amazing what a change 1,500 characters a week make.
Thank you for making this contest a hit year after year, and please spread the word that it’s back for its tenth season.
Anne del Castillo Named New York City’s Commissioner of Media and Entertainment
The film and TV industries in New York City have a new boss: Anne del Castillo, who has been tapped by Mayor Bill de Blasio to serve as commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment.
Del Castillo had served as general counsel and chief operating officer of MOME since 2015. She succeeds Julie Menin, who left the post in February after nearly three years to become Census Director for the city. Del Castillo had been acting commissioner since Menin’s departure.
“Media and entertainment are central to New York City’s economy and identity. Anne has the vision and experience to continue to strengthen the industry during this time of unprecedented growth and change,” said de Blasio. “Her commitment to diversifying our entertainment sector and piloting innovative programs will ensure New York continues to be the media capital of the world.”
At MOME, del Castillo will oversee all activity in the city related to location shooting, tax incentives and the city’s growing focus on diversity and inclusion programs designed to open doors for film and TV employment opportunities to a broad range of New Yorkers. MOME’s charter also extends to the music, Broadway, advertising and other media sectors active in the city.
In all, media and entertainment account for some 305,000 local jobs and economic output of $104 billion, per the Mayor’s Office. Given the rapid growth of lensing in New York during the past 20 years, the MOME commissioner has influence in Hollywood as well as in the five boroughs.
“This is an exciting time for our agency to engage a broad cross-section of industry, community and other key stakeholders to advance an inclusive, sustainable and thriving creative economy that benefits all New Yorkers and reflects the diversity that defines our city,” del Castillo said.
Under Menin, expanded from supporting the film, TV, and theater industries to supporting the music, publishing, advertising and digital media industries as well. MOME also encompasses NYC Media, the City’s official broadcast network and the Office of Nightlife.
That office — and the institution of former bar owner Ariel Palitz as the city’s first “nightlife mayor” — was one of Menin’s signature initiatives as commissioner, along with an outreach program for the city’s music industry, which included a hearing involving some 75 organizations and companies that do business in the city. Menin was also involved in the city’s hosting of the 2018 Grammy Awards, the first time in 15 years the ceremony was held in New York.
Del Castillo joined MOME in 2014 as director of legal affairs. She was closely involved in the creation of the Made in NY Women’s Film, TV and Theatre Fund, which is has begun to distribute $5 million in grants to women filmmakers and playwrights.
Before that, del Castillo was VP of development and business affairs at American Documentary, producer of PBS’ “POV,” and she worked as associate director of the Austin Film Society, where she administered the Texas Filmmakers Production fund.
“We applaud Mayor de Blasio for his selection, we welcome Commissioner del Castillo, and look forward to continuing our strong relationship with the great staff of the Mayor’s Film Office,” said Dee Dee Myers, executive VP of worldwide corporate communications and public affairs for Warner Bros.
Del Castillo’s work in the arena of diversity and inclusion makes her well-suited to her new role.
“We have had the privilege of working with Anne on a number of projects, including the innovative Made in New York Writers Room fellowship, which is advancing the careers of talented television writers whose backgrounds and voices reflect the diversity of the city,” said Lowell Peterson, exec director of Writers Guild of America East. “Anne and MOME are great partners to an important industry and we look forward to continuing to work together.”
World War Z Launch Suffers with Connectivity Issues, Server Problems and Bugs
World War Z launched yesterday, but its first day on the market didn’t exactly go smoothly. Players have reported numerous issues such as multiple failed attempts to connect to the game’s servers and problems during gameplay that halts progression.
The biggest issue at launch appears to be a lack of servers for players to join, meaning that the game is only playable in an offline state. For an online-focused co-operative title, this is quite clearly a major issue. To developer Saber Interactive’s credit though, it looks like the team is trying its best to get more servers up and running to alleviate the problem.
What may take a little more time though are the bugs and glitches that have been brought to light. Personally speaking, we haven’t been able to finish the game’s first chapter yet because the game freezes and doesn’t conclude the level correctly. Other players have reported jittery movement, a “Loading Game Logic” message that crashes the game, and being unable to play with friends in different regions.
Dish to Game of Thrones fans: ‘You’ll need to subscribe to HBO Now’
If you’re a Game of Thrones fan and a Dish or Sling TV customer, you’re going to need to subscribe to HBO Now if you want to watch the April 14 premiere of the hit TV show’s final season.
Since Nov. 2018, Dish and HBO have been involved in a dispute which has left the premium TV network blacked out for Dish subscribers. Sling TV, Dish’s streaming platform, has been affected by the dispute as well.
As a result, subscribers to either Dish service have been unable to subscribe to an HBO package through their TV provider.
With the long-awaited final season of Game of Thrones premiering on Sunday night, the satellite television company is directing its subscribers to sign up for HBO Now.
Dish has even gone so far as to set up a website explaining to its customers how to subscribe to HBO Now, which it calls “similar to Netflix.” HBO Now is HBO’s standalone streaming television service, so it doesn’t require a cable or satellite subscription. Dish doesn’t receive any compensation for sending its customers to the HBO Now service, though the company obviously benefits by keeping its customers happy.
As of April 2019, the Dish-HBO standoff is in its fifth month, with neither company close to a deal as far as anyone on the outside knows. The channel blackout on Dish is HBO’s first in its history.
Negotiations stalled between the TV service provider and the premium TV network over a “carriage fee” dispute. Dish claimed in a 2018 statement that HBO’s parent company, AT&T, wanted “a guaranteed number of subscribers, regardless of how many consumers actually want to subscribe to HBO.”
As of now, it looks like the dispute between HBO and Dish will continue long after winter comes on the final season of Game of Thrones.
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