News Corp Australia’s News in the Community program has announced the launch of a free national news website to inspire the next generation of readers through the power of news.
Kids News offers students and teachers a valuable literacy tool for the classroom, helping to improve children’s general knowledge and thirst for information, teaching them the importance of relying on trusted news sources.
The ready-to-use literacy tool provides two daily news stories specifically written in child-appropriate language.
Content is sourced from News Corp’s key newspapers and websites, including the Herald Sun, The Daily Telegraph, The Courier-Mail, The Advertiser, The Mercury and NT News, as well as from its regional papers and community titles.
The site is isolated, so it does not link to outside news sources, meaning students can use it safely in a supervised or unsupervised environment or for independent learning.
All content is linked to the national curriculum with learning activities provided on every news story. These activities are written by current, qualified teachers for teachers.
Each story contains text, multiple images, video where available, audio of the story and a glossary of terms to improve the students’ vocabulary. There is also an extensive archive of content that continues to build each day.
The stories are colour coded to indicate the level of comprehension needed by students to read it. The codes are green (easy for all students from Years 3 to 8), orange (intermediate), and red (contains complex language or themes).
Former Herald Sun associate editor for lifestyle, Toni Hetherington – who championed the initiative and has overseen the successful pilot – has been appointed to the newly created role of national education publisher, and will assume responsibility for the new, national kidsnews.com.au site.
Hetherington said: “Thanks to the generous support from the Herald & Weekly Times, and News Corp’s News in the Community initiative, the uptake and positive feedback from schools has been phenomenal.
“The site averages almost three million page views a year, and an average time on site of almost five minutes. We are now ready to take it to the rest of Australia and let other schools experience the wonder of learning through relevant news stories.”
News Corp’s Penny Fowler and Toni Hetherington showing of the site to school kids (credit: Stuart McEvoy, The Australian)
While the site is aimed at students from Years 3 to 6, the Victorian trial has proven that students from prep and up to Year 9 have also benefited from the content.
Hetherington said Kids News hoped to offer teachers an alternative tool to improve literacy levels.
The site was developed by News Corp with the assistance of teachers to help fill a gap in their access to news as a learning tool.
“Many teachers told us they wanted to use news in the classroom, but felt it took too long to filter or censor the printed newspaper or website to ensure the children were only looking at appropriate content,” Hetherington said.
“We have listened to the teachers and removed all the hurdles that stopped them using news, and have created a ready-to-use resource that meets all their needs as well as their students’ needs.
“The teachers love that the news changes daily and that children are never sure what sort of story they will encounter each day, which is the serendipitous nature of news.”
Hetherington said Kids News had attracted both state and national support, with advertisers including Hewlett Packard and the Melbourne Cricket Club.
“Kids News offers both national and local advertisers access to a niche and engaged audience including students, teachers and parents,” she said.
“And the fact the site encourages learning is very attractive to advertisers.”
Penny Fowler, chairman of the Herald & Weekly Times and News Corp Australia’s community ambassador, said: “We are immensely proud of News Corp’s passionate and principled contributions, giving back to the communities in which we serve across the country.
“The launch of a national news site for school children is an important part of News Corp’s commitment to educating the next generation, improving children’s literacy, and investing in readers of the future, through our News in the Community program.
“We hope students around the country will embrace this dedicated news site, and teachers find it an invaluable tool to better educate and inform their students about what is happening in Australia and around the world.”
Damian Eales, chief operating officer of publishing at News Corp Australia, said: “Our newspapers have a long and proud history of working on behalf of communities around the country.
“Kids News is an extension of this commitment, aimed at educating, inspiring, and encouraging curiosity in our youth.
“We have been overwhelmed by the popularity and success of Kids News since rolling it out as a pilot program in 2017 to Victorian schools, and have already attracted a readership of over 110,000 teachers and students.
“We expect this to significantly increase as we take it national.”