Bringing Global Events into the Schools p.

By: Larry Luxner Worldwise is a tabloid devoted exclusively to educating high school students about foreign affairs
ONE MONTH, THIS feisty little newspaper scrutinizes Somalia. The next issue, it focuses on the Far East. The month after that, it analyzes Islam.
The eight-page paper is Worldwise, a rapidly growing tabloid devoted exclusively to educating high school students about foreign affairs.
From only 5,000 last year, the enterprise has tripled its circulation to 16,500 and expects to hit 30,000 copies by mid-1994. Its goal is to reach 100,000 students nationwide by 1996.
Peter Bird Martin, the newspaper's editor in chief, also runs the South-North News Service and is executive director of the Institute for Current World Affairs. All three non-profit ventures are headquartered at 220-year-old Wheelock House on the campus of Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H.
Martin, formerly a senior editor at Time, said Worldwise is written in a style different from most daily newspapers.
""There are all kinds of writing devices you use in magazine writing that you don't use in newspapers. Stories unfold rather than just run downhill,"" he said in a recent interview in New Hampshire.
""No matter how good and thorough radio and tv news is, it can't convey the depth that newspapers can. With Worldwise, we're trying to get kids hooked on newspapers, so the stuff can't be boring,"" he added, ""It's a lot cheaper than a $40 textbook.""
Worldwise, which carries no advertising, is funded by a $600,000 commitment from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Of that amount, $200,000 is a direct grant and $400,000 is a low-interest loan to be repaid from net revenues.
During its first year, the paper also got support from the New York Times Foundation, the Philip Graham Fund of the Washington Post and the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation.
Designed as a supplement to daily newspapers,Worldwise comes out nine times a year, from September to May. It costs $6.15 per student per school year when ordered in bulk; each classroom subscription also includes Word to the Wise, a teacher's guide packed with suggestions for class assignments, quizzes and current-events discussions.
The issues are edited by veteran journalists who come to Hanover for three-month stints and draw on their years of experience. Many of them are retired colleagues of Martin's.
Recent Worldwise managing editors include Milton Orshefsky and Campbell Geeslin, both senior editors at Life, and Richard Dudman, former Washington and foreign correspondent for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Martin, 63, said Worldwise provides the background on complicated issues that daily papers rarely provide. Each edition focuses on a particular subject or geographic region of current interest.
For instance, a recent Worldwise was entitled ""Asia's Economic Miracle"" and was packed with 23 articles and a two-page center spread with a large map and the latest statistics on 15 Pacific Rim nations.
The articles, mostly written by stringers for South-North News Service, examined everything from the Japanese work ethic to Hong Kong's uncertain future to the differences between Vietnam's two major metro areas, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.
Like all issues, this one contained an ancient folk tale adapted by Martin for today's high school readers.
""We fill a vacuum,"" said Martin. ""Some newspapers do a weekly teen-age page about world news, but that does not really satisfy. What the daily newspapers don't do is put the whole thing together. We work well with the daily newspaper and enable the teacher to use the paper as a teaching tool.""
He said Worldwise is cheap enough for teachers to order out of their own pockets or from their school budgets without having to seek approval as is the case with textbooks, which are frequently out of date by the time they are published.
""Our main marketing takes place in the summer,"" he explained. ""We advertise by setting up displays at meetings of social studies teachers across the country. Free copies are given out. It's our way of getting into the consciousness of teachers.""
Martin, who launched Money magazine in the mid-1980s, stated that a lack of ads is a big plus.
""I and the editors here truly love saying what we have to say without having to worry about stockholders or advertisers,"" he commented.
The content of Worldwise is strongly influenced by the South-North News Service, which Martin helped establish in 1985 in order to give Third World journalists a chance to write about their own countries for world media.
Intended to counter UNESCO's push for a ""New World Information Order,"" the news service at one time syndicated 10 to 15 stories a week to 17 newspapers around the world.
Today, however, South-North has only a handful of subscribers in the United States?among them the Portland Oregonian and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer?and puts out just two stories a week.
Martin has shifted emphasis to Worldwise and recently concluded a deal with the San Jose Mercury-News, in which that paper offers ninth- to 12th-graders a free subscription for every subscription to Worldwise purchased at half-price. Martin explained that ""if you don't reach kids in high school, you're not going to have them as adult readers.""
""With 100,000 kids reading Worldwise, we'll more than break even,"" he observed. ""We want kids not only to read the stuff but start thinking critically about it."nE&P
? ""If you don't reach kids in high school, you're not going to have them as adult readers.""
? Peter Martin, former senior editor at Time, currently editor in chief of Worldwise.
? (Luxner is a free-lance journalist based in San Juan, Puerto Rico.)
? Worldwise


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