Online News Aims at Young Readers

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Two online student newspapers debuted recently, one a national publication written by and for students in elementary through high school, and the other an international newspaper that is focused on providing hard news in a simple, student-friendly format.

The computer company AlphaSmart, a division of Wisconsin Rapids, Wis.-based Renaissance Learning Inc., launched its online newspaper, The National Neo, for students in the United States last month. The first issue of the weekly publication is expected to come out later this fall. Elementary, middle, and high school students must use AlphaSmart laptop computers to write news articles for the newspaper. Teachers upload the stories and photos to the AlphaSmart Web site, where they are digitally composed in a newspaper-style format, said Beth M. Bergmans, AlphaSmart’s product line manager. The online newspaper will be free for anyone to read at

She emphasized that The National Neo would not supplant existing school newspapers.

“It’s an opportunity to contribute to a bigger community,” she said. “Schools can expand their horizons.”

AlphaSmart contacted about 3,000 elementary and middle schools for the project, Ms. Bergmans said. Teachers can register online at the AlphaSmart site.

One teacher who has already registered is Nancy J. Mead, who teaches 3rd grade at Jones Elementary School in Gladstone, Mich. Her class already produces a weekly print publication.

“It just intrigued me,” Ms. Mead said. “It’s technology, it’s writing, it’s reading.”

A British company recently rolled out an American edition of its bimonthly international online newspaper for students,

More than 232 schools worldwide subscribe to the newspaper, which eschews articles on fashion, sports, and celebrities in favor of a hard-news focus.

One recent issue included stories on Philadelphia’s high-tech School of the Future, the death of the Australian conservationist Steve Irwin, and Israel’s lifting of its air and sea blockades of Lebanon.

The newspaper, owned by London-based Ltd., also accepts student-written submissions.

Vol. 26, Issue 08, Page 9

Published in Print: October 18, 2006, as Online News Aims at Young Readers

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