By: Nu Yang
Today’s top story: “11-Year-Old ‘Mayor’ Creates Justin Bieber Street.”
Perhaps you missed that article amid headlines of economic turmoil or the heated presidential race, but for readers of TweenTribune (TweenTribune.com), the young pop star is a hot topic — as well as animals, cafeteria food, and technology.
Created by Alan Jacobson in 2009, TweenTribune, along with TeenTribune and TT Español, is a daily news site updated with relevant and interesting news for middle and high school students. For Jacobson — who has two daughters, ages 13 and 16 — developing a daily news-reading habit at an early age is essential for the next generation of readers.
Jacobson has 33 years of experience in the newspaper business and is the president of consulting company Brass Tacks Design. Every day he searches newswires, such as The Associated Press, for stories that will get kids reading — from Lady Gaga taking over Santa’s workshop to a new baby giraffe at the Memphis Zoo.
And it’s working.
Teachers around the country are using Jacobson’s website in their classrooms, generating 5 million page views per month. There are more than 100 posted testimonials from teachers who are thrilled with how engaged their students are with the website.
“I told my students that TweenTribune is like getting up in the morning and reading the newspaper, so they’d be current on what was happening and they get to express their opinion,” said Polly Brent, a sixth-grade teacher from Whitney, Texas.
According to Jacobson, having the ability to comment on a story is the main reason so many students enjoy the site.
“It provides social networking,” he said. “Commenting is a big part of the experience.”
For regular newspaper sites, moderating comments is a big concern, but for TweenTribune, teachers have to approve their students’ comments before they are posted. “That’s like having 50,000 moderators,” Jacobson said.
Classrooms aren’t the only ones who see TweenTribune as a resource. The Pennsylvania Newspaper Association recently partnered with Jacobson by offering newspapers subscriptions to the service.
“The PNA continuously strives to offer value-added programs to our members, which we certainly believe this is,” said Tricia Wright, vice president of PNA association services. “This multi-platform solution allows newspapers to generate profits instantly, by selling advertising into the locally branded print or online version.”
Newspapers keep 100 percent of the local print and online advertising revenue and a share of revenue generated by national ads.
“By posting local news content, it provides students a much more social experience with newspapers,” Jacobson said. “Why would children go to a newspaper if they already receive their news from Facebook or Twitter? That’s why we need to get the newspaper brand out there to them.”