30 Apr 2017

Kids' papers: a fresh approach to journalism

From Mediawatch, 9:09 am on 30 April 2017
Kids Newspapers

Kids Newspapers Photo: screen shots

It's often said that newspapers are dying off as rapidly as their ageing readers, but newspapers written by and for children are bucking that trend internationally.

Crinkling News - Australia's first national newspaper for children - turned one this week. It's already breaking even financially and has a readership of 25,000 children between the ages of seven and 14.

It's the new kid on the block when it comes to children's newspapers. France has at least three daily children's papers with a combined circulation of 150,000. And First News in United Kingdom attracts more than two million readers every week, and produces video reports fronted by reporters in their teens for Sky News.

Crinkling News is edited by Saffron Howden a former Sydney Morning Herald journalist. The weekly paper includes contributions from freelance journalists from around the country as well as reports by school-aged reporters.

In its first year its featured interviews by young reporters with everyone from the prime minister and a Nobel Prize winning scientist to this year's Australian entrant into the Euro Vision song contest.

Saffron Howden told Mediawatch that children's newspapers were the only newspapers in the world that were bucking the trend of falling circulations. "They're the only papers where readership and circulation are increasing all the time."

She said it was important not to talk down to kids but also to recognise that they often have very little background knowledge.

This week's issue features an interview with New South Wales premier Gladys Berejiklian by 11-year-old Declan Gunther; a thought piece on why it's time for Australia to remember its frontier wars, a story on the US and North Korea stand-off, a report on a survey on teen happiness around the world,  as well as science, arts,  and sports news and of course a crossword puzzle.

Saffron Howden said it's important not to talk down to young readers but also to recognise that you can't assume they have any background knowledge of the topics being covered.

In New Zealand the closest thing to Crinkling News is the website Kiwi Kids News. Three hundred schools currently subscribe to the site which re-packages daily news in child friendly way.

And there’s Tearaway - a magazine aimed at secondary aged students that was published from the 1980s up until 2014 – which is now a website written by and for young people.