In the news - Richard Addis

1st April 2011 at 01:00

Richard Addis, 54, is a former editor of the Sunday Express and the Saturday edition of the Financial Times. He has launched, an online newspaper for schools which links news stories to the national curriculum and encourages pupils to debate and engage with the wider world.

Why did you set up a newspaper for schools?

"I was just talking to the friends of my kids and discovered that there is very little for that age group in terms of explaining news. There is plenty of news they might like to learn about, but it doesn't really make sense unless they have got the background knowledge or something to relate it to."

How is your news accessible to young people?

"We produce short, very easily digestible stories with proper graphics and illustrations. This means that if they catch the news out of the corner of their eye, they will realise why it is news, why it matters. We have tested it in a few schools and got a good reaction."

How do you decide which news stories to cover?

"We choose three stories a day. We try to get the big story of the day, another where there is a really big issue or argument at stake, and a third, the "buried" story, which might have only got a little play in the news but, underneath, it might be the most important story of all."

Is it difficult to appeal to different age groups?

"Our target readership is students aged 11-18, but we're not really thinking about whether one story is for 11-year-olds and another is for 18-year-olds. We are just trying to make stories that are multi-layered. We include a QA section to address any queries they might have and also as a way of explaining the background. It can raise complex questions. We also include news videos and other material and links to other sites."

Are young people interested in current affairs?

"I think there is definitely an appetite in schools. Since January, 1,000 schools have used the site so far. It also makes what students are learning in school seem more relevant. If you can see history happening in Libya and see similarities with what you are learning about, it makes the lesson more useful."

What about the teachers?

"They are very positive about it. It's all about saving time for teachers - they are incredibly busy and don't have time to sift through the papers, cut a story out and make a slide. The website filters out news that is too complex and does a lot of the work for them."

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