Former ‘Reality’ Writers React to Section’s Expansion

Photo+by+Good+Good+Good+on+Unsplash

Photo by Good Good Good on Unsplash

Sydney Crocker

The award-winning Bucks County Courier Times’ teen section, which has published weekly in print and online since 1995, is getting a makeover.

In addition to printing in the Courier Times, The Intelligencer, and Burlington County Times newspapers, the teen section will be expanding to publications in Camden, Cumberland, and Gloucester counties, according to a June 9 article on the Courier Times’ website. 

The section will also be changing its name from ‘Reality’ to ‘Teen Takes.’

“It’s only good that will come from the expansion,” says Padraic Maroney, 38, who wrote on the Reality panel from 1996-2002. He proudly boasts the title of longest tenure on the panel.

“More teenagers will get the chance to take part,” said Maroney, “and more people will be able to read what they have to say.”

He hopes that the expansion will allow for a more diverse representation of students, especially in terms of “ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, and [social] class.” “Back in the day, it was a panel of (mostly white) middle-class kids. So our microcosm of the world was a little limited.”

6abc reporter Trish Hartman, 37, who wrote for the Reality section from 2000-2001, is also hopeful for the expansion. “I hope it leads to more smart, ethical, passionate journalists in our area,” said Hartman, who cites her Reality experience during her senior year of high school as what prompted her to choose a career in journalism. 

“For me, it was the first step towards a career in news and I’m eternally grateful for the mentorship it provided,” said Hartman.

Of the expansion, she also stated that “A secondary benefit is that us grown-ups have more opportunities to understand and appreciate the next generation.”

Maren Dougherty, 36, who wrote for Reality from 1998-2002, is also happy about the expansion. “At various points in the past decade or so–when media outlets have gone through rounds of budget cuts and layoffs–I’ve been concerned sections like Reality would go away completely. I’m glad the decision-makers view the section as valuable enough to expand.”

Dougherty also cites Reality as her first experience with journalism that encouraged her career in nonprofit communications.

Hal Conte, 23, joined the panel in 2016 after hearing of his twin’s enthusiasm during the weekly meetings. After Hal’s experience on Reality, he decided to major in journalism in college. 

“I’m of two minds,” he said of the section’s expansion.  “I so deeply benefited as a reality member that I think the prospect of more people joining it is excellent. At the same time, the ‘Bucks Countyness’ of reality as it existed gave it much of its unique character. 

Conte hopes that “the Teen Takes section doesn’t become too homogenous” due to the expansion.

Valerie Bell, 26, is excited about the section’s name change but prefers the name Reality. “For me, Reality was the epitome of its name. My fellow writers and I did not sugarcoat anything. We were vulnerable and honest about our experiences growing up in the early 2010s.”

Bell is “optimistic that future writers for Teen Takes will continue in the same traditions as Reality, and can also write raw and honest stories about their experiences.”

Adam Barnard, 35, is also hopeful for the expansion, regardless of the name change. “I think that, as long as the essence of what the section means and represents is still alive, I’d love to see the expansion happen. More voices, more viewpoints, more kids like me finding the outlet that may be the difference for them in their lives.”