Tuesday, September 30th 2014
Ian Vince is a writer and father who helped his daughter’s primary school class make a newspaper. He’s written about the process and today we have the final instalment of his guest blog posts. (You can catch up on Part 1 and Part 2 if you missed them.)
After my second session of writing workshops with Key Stage 2 pupils, a problem started to become apparent with the whole idea. The children – all between 8 and 11 years old – had been charged with writing all the copy for an 8-page tabloid newspaper and while a lot of progress had been made, there were huge holes in the project. For one thing, there simply wasn’t the volume of material that was needed. Things had to change.
Fortunately, as the weeks passed, it became clear that the challenges that remained contained within them the seeds of their own solution. While not every child had contributed something that would fit within the paper, it was decided to get them to try a different kind of writing that could exist in a space dedicated to it. The teacher was asked if she could get the children to contribute two or three bite-sized amazing facts for every planet in the solar system. These would be compiled into an infographic for the centre spread – a pull-out poster, in effect. The copy that came back was excellent, focussed copy, everyone had contributed something and two pages could be laid out in a funky, interesting way.
Copy started coming in from another class in the school. Key Stage 1 pupils supplied me with recounts – essentially newspaper reports – of the event that kicked off the workshop, the staged ‘landing’ of a small, home-made ‘time machine’ in the school field. These were all essentially the same story, with individual elaborations written of different details along the way. The trick was to get as many of these stories in print as possible, so it was run as a newspaper story, complete with captioned picture and screamer headline, but sub-divided into a kind of eye-witness vox-pops-in-print, enabling everyone to have a shout.
In the end, all but the very youngest children had a piece in their own school newspaper and every child could take a copy home. The school gained not only a set of interesting challenges that could drive pupil engagement and a stack of left-over newspapers to show prospective parents, but a PR opportunity in the local newspaper. The writer, meanwhile, found new ways of working, a thoroughly fulfilling and worthwhile project and inspiration from some of the most imaginative minds on the planet.
What To Do Next
Get in touch with a writer, journalist or editor. In particular, find out if there is one among the mums and dads or on the governing body. You don’t even need to find a writer with design experience as Newspaper Club’s online ARTHR layout tool gives you everything you need to get the children’s words and pictures into print.
Thanks very much to Ian Vince for sharing his experience. If you’re thinking about creating a newspaper for your school, read about how it works and have a look through The Newsagent for some design inspiration. You can also get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions about the process.
Wednesday, September 24th 2014
Yesterday we introduced Ian Vince, who organised a workshop at his daughter’s primary school to produce a newspaper. Today we have the second of Ian’s three guest blog posts documenting his experience putting together The Longford Examiner with the students.
In the first part of this series of three blog posts, I told you about how I came to be leading a children’s writing workshop for Key Stage 2 pupils at my daughter’s primary school – workshops that I hoped would help them produce all the words required for an 8-page tabloid newspaper.
That’s quite a tall order for a class of a dozen or so children aged between 8 and 11 of varying ability, especially when it is important for every pupil to contribute something – no matter how minor – to the finished paper.
If you’re a teacher reading this, you’ll know all about the educational targets you are charged with getting your class to meet. If, like me, you are not a teacher then remember that it’s not your job to teach – you are there to provide light and shade, a different viewpoint and perspective that will give the teacher new opportunities to do their job. Non-teachers who haven’t observed just what happens in a modern classroom will also be surprised at how dynamic teaching has become, with attention switching from whiteboard, to pupil interaction, to active teaching – a continual rolling back-and-forth that keeps energy and attention at an optimum level for learning.
Inserting a writer into this mix and taking the lesson two-handed with the class teacher keeps everything on the move, but beware of talking too much as you don’t want the novelty to wear off.
Lessons, which stretched across three mornings, started with a short whiteboard presentation of science fiction graphics – book covers, NASA conceptual artwork – and imagination-firing facts. We talked about the constellation Orion and the various supernovae that have occurred in it over millions of years and looked at the star Betelgeuse which will probably be the next to go ker-blooey – tomorrow, next week or in a thousand years’ time. After filling their heads with the explosions of distant stars, it seemed like a good time to set the brief for them to write speculative fiction – what would life be like in 1000 years from now?
It turned out that the newspaper itself was inspiring (never under-estimate the promise of getting your name in print) even among the digitally-literate under-11s. Having shown pupils a Newspaper Club sample at the outset, many of them decided that they wanted to copy its various elements. All of a sudden, ads, puzzles, news stories, captions and the like were all mooted and the project took on a life of its own. This proved to be a useful disruption of the original plan to publish a paper full of short stories and poems, as the medium of long-form creative writing wasn’t suited to all.
At last, I started to be able to leave school with suitable material, but I was aware that there were gaping holes developing and it would take some determined steering to get the paper back on course.
Tuesday, September 23rd 2014
According to today’s Google doodle it’s officially the end of summer and it’s back to school for many. We thought now would be a good time to show off a brilliant newspaper project from Longford Primary School in Salisbury. Countryfile columnist Ian Vince put together The Longford Examiner with his daughter’s primary class and has written a series of guest blog posts about the process. This is first of three instalments that will be posted over the next week. And now here’s Ian:
It started with a simple idea – a newspaper project for my daughter’s primary school, a project that could be somehow connected to activities during Book Week, to link writing and reading together and make it fun. It was also designed as a way of encouraging reluctant writers – especially in Key Stage 2, the top three years of school – to develop the writing skills that would stand them in good stead as they moved towards secondary school.
If all that sounds like a tall order, that’s only because the outcomes of simple ideas can be amazing. It’s easy to make newspaper projects educationally sound, but if a project has a few disruptive elements to it, children – who love the suspension of the normal order of things – truly engage in the learning, which was the aim all along.
To achieve that, a science fiction theme was set and work began on the construction of a few props to kick off the fun with – details below. Newspaper publication was the reward that would spur pupils on in their writing, but a subject, a setting and inspiration was needed to get them to start without even realising it.
In short, a simple, convincing crash scene was mocked up in the school playing field and children were breathlessly summoned to view the wreckage as morning assembly came to an end. CDs were ‘discovered’ on the machine, one for each class and each with its own message from ‘Fiona’, a time-travelling, living computer from the year 3014. Fiona set the pupils their tasks, a speculative fiction challenge to write about what they think life will be like in the future. One class is given a more conventional newspaper brief, to report on the whole Fiona story.
The next stage was how to turn this craziness into an opportunity for the class teacher. A subject we will return to in the next instalment.
Props and materials
How far you go with your set-up is entirely up to you, but in this case, a few cheap DIY theatre props went a long way to providing a bit of back-story and ensuring that the situation was unusual enough to catch and fire the pupils’ imaginations:
- Time machine
Made from an odd-shaped box covered in silver foil, bits of dead circuit board from redundant TV remotes and some steam-punk ducting.
- Spare mobile phone
A siren and warning klaxon were provided by a mobile phone, rigged up to battery-powered speakers with a custom ringtone knocked up in a software sound editor and triggered by discretely ringing the phone.
- Christmas lights
Two sets of flashing LED lights were installed to create a pleasing pulsing light display
- Smoke in a can
An aerosol of smoke in a can, available from Maplin, was buried up to its nozzle next to the wreck in a way that enabled it to be operated with a foot.
- CDs of messages from the future
Fiona’s script was recorded as it was read aloud by computer screen-reading software. The sound file was then manipulated in Audacity, a free PC/Mac sound editor.
In the next instalment Ian will talk about organising his class of students and generating content for their newspaper. Tune in tomorrow!
Thursday, September 18th 2014
Fionnuala Doran is a student at the Royal College Art who recently won the British Library’s Comics Unmasked competition. Her work engages with history through simple, striking illustration — like this wonderful drawing of Tippoo’s Tiger from a series of sketches from the V&A. The Assumption is a 16-page graphic novelette printed as a digital broadsheet. You can see the comic in its entirety in The Newsagent. Fionnuala tells us about her project:
The Assumption is the end result of my first year studying Visual Communication at the Royal College of Art, and was developed initially as a very loose adaptation of Julian Barnes’ short story Shipwreck.
The Assumption tells the story of the almost forgotten 1879 death of a ten year old boy during a riot in the small market town of Lurgan, Northern Ireland, the attempts to define the circumstances of his death by both his family and the police and the subsequent events in the town, the truth of which has never been determined.
Thank you for printing with us, Fionnuala! You can find more comic newspapers under the ‘illustration’ tag in The Newsagent.
Friday, September 12th 2014
Our Paper of the Month for August is a lovely wine magazine for Hoults Wine Merchants designed by A.N.D Studio, both out of Huddersfield. The 16-page digital mini features articles about winemakers, recipes with wine pairing ideas, and an illustrated catalogue of wines for sale at Hoults. We think it looks great and feels much friendlier than your run-of-the-mill glossy retail brochure. We asked Aidan Nolan of A.N.D about the project:
The newspaper was put together with Hoults Wine Merchants,a client we have been working with over the last few years. We first worked with them in creating a new identity and had also wanted to produce something they could give to their customers that was free and cost effective to produce.
The newspaper was a perfect fit; it was something that was tactile, reflected their values and was a perfect match for how we could deliver the personality from the store into people’s hands. It needed to be an object that people could dip into, smile whilst learning about wine, see offers and enjoy an interaction as you would as if you had popped in for a visit. We are about to start working on the Winter edition in fact.
People can email the studio at email@example.com to request a copy but it will depend on availability.
About Paper of the Month
Every month, we give a £100 Newspaper Club voucher to one paper shared in The Newsagent. If you’ve printed a paper with us, share your paper (through the settings in your account) for a chance to win.
Wednesday, August 20th 2014
Enjoy the Ride is ‘a fanzine dedicated to all things automotive, scootering, motorbikes, design, art and photography’ created by graphic designer David Hardy. It’s a beautiful publication for sale in the Newsagent for £6.50. Here’s what David says about his newspaper:
Enjoy The Ride originally started out as a blog inspired by my love of wheels. The site features mainly vintage racing scooters & motorcycles as this is a real passion of mine. The fanzine had been in the pipeline for some time and being a graphic designer I had a real desire to translate some of the digital media into print. Newspaper stock suited the archive imagery & 35mm photography perfectly. The concept behind the delivery was to create something mainly visual and not text heavy. There’s also something about the disposable quality of a newspaper that’s really attractive. Once the pages are filled with typography and photographs it immediately creates tension.
The first issue was dedicated to notions of adventure, voyager, gadabout (One who roams or roves about, as in search of amusement or social activity). For many of us the pleasure of riding is a means of relaxation, escapism or in some cases a kind of prozac. We ride to experience new places, meet new friends and sometimes push ourselves beyond our comfort zones. As the road broadens, so does our emotional states of mind.
Work is currently underway on a second issue. Thanks for printing with us, David!
Wednesday, August 13th 2014
Our Paper of the Month for July is Everything for Breakfast from Sheffield-based illustrator David Hill. Set in a brilliantly drawn universe, the 20-page digital tabloid starts off with an invitation to a birthday breakfast on a lighthouse. The story follows an adventurer in a fabulous jumper, making her way across the world one breakfast at a time — it’s our kind of comic. Just look at that bedroom!
Unfortunately we can’t jump into the pages, but David was happy to tell us a bit more about his comic:
Everything for Breakfast is the result of my final university project, where I wanted to create something for children to interact with, to read through, and to implicitly receive the message of the importance of acceptance and tolerance amongst different cultures.
I use my child protagonists – Scottish Explorer Aggie and Ghanaian food lover Kofi – to get the message across in their own unique way. In issue one, Aggie encounters the Tunnel Dudes, a grumpy set of postmen, who become both help and hindrances throughout. They reluctantly help her on her way south towards the Congo jungle so she can find the best present for Kofi’s birthday, while eating all the breakfast she can before setting off again.
Children’s comics have been around for many years, though a gap seems apparent in educational comics for kids who are becoming more socially independent as they move from primary to secondary school. With this project I was hoping to bridge that gap with my contribution.
I see the comic being read by kids in schools during the morning breakfast routine, or at break time, so I wanted the comic to be a larger format than the usual issued comic of today, and saw that our University’s graduation brochure was being printed through Newspaper Club. I’ve been aware of the company for a while so this was the perfect excuse to see what my work looks like as a newspaper. The results are great, and I didn’t expect the company to be so personal with the project! And now I know how to make Issue 2 even better.
This is just the first of a planned four installments, and we can’t wait for the next issue. Thanks for printing with us, David!
About Paper of the Month
Every month, we give a £100 Newspaper Club voucher to one paper shared in The Newsagent. If you’ve printed a paper with us, share your paper (through the settings in your account) for a chance to win.
Thursday, August 7th 2014
It’s always tempting to sneak a look when you come across someone drawing in a sketchbook. But sometimes you’re lucky enough to be given a guilt-free glimpse in the form of a newspaper. Hannah Blackman-Kurz is a terribly talented illustrator — she’s written a gorgeous children’s book called The Qalupalik and designed posters for the Cambridge Arts Theatre – who has published bits of her travelling sketchbook as a 12-page digital tabloid. Observe is a collection of drawings she did in her local coffee shops, and she tells us a bit about the project:
Observe was a self initiated day project that was based in Cambridge coffee shops. It was a experimentation on how my images would feel placed on a newspaper format and if it gave a different quality to the images, it also fitted the theme of coffee shops and how newspapers are associated with them.
It was great to see how they finally turned out, it gave the images more of a tactile approach where people can pick them up and don’t feel they have to be so precious with it unlike going through someone’s sketchbook. I’m going to keep experimenting hopefully there shall be a few more editions over the the summer! Thanks Newspaper Club!
We love Hannah’s work and you can see more of it on her blog. Thank you for printing with us!
Thursday, July 31st 2014
We printed the first issue of music magazine The Stinger in February and last month they published their third issue. It’s a cracking publication out of Hastings covering local music news and history, from interviews with current acts to ‘I Was There’ accounts of gigs gone by (like the Sex Pistols and Nick Cave playing Hastings Pier). It’s all put together by volunteers, working with the Fat Tuesday charity, and distributed locally for free. Managing Editor Andy Gunton wrote to tell us about the newspaper:
The Stinger is a free, independent, local music magazine for Hastings and the surrounding ‘1066’ area. Its aim is to help promote, support and encourage original local music. The magazine is published every other month and is written and produced by local music lovers, who are all passionate about both their hometown and the music created and played within it.
In a very timely development, Hastings has recently been officially recognised as the ‘most musically sophisticated town in the UK’. Happily we now have a local music magazine to help celebrate and publicise that fact. The team behind the magazine want to produce engaging, educational and readable content, something that the readers would wish to keep for its own sake, instead of glancing at and casting aside.
The design and look of The Stinger was an important consideration when first putting the magazine together. The editors wanted a magazine that looked and felt a little different to other local music and listing publications– hence producing a traditional mini newspaper instead of an A5 sized glossy publication.
When we first heard of Newspaper Club and saw samples of their products, we knew they would be the right people to put our creation into print. We have been very happy with the service we’ve received from the Newspaper Club team, from the prompt and friendly replies to our initial enquiries, right through to the advice and help given when The Stinger finally went to print. Launching a new print magazine, albeit locally, in this digital age is a bit of a leap of faith, and a rather daunting prospect as well. So, to have a stress free printing and delivery process is very welcome, and one less thing to worry about!
You can download a copy of The Stinger online and keep up with the magazine on Twitter. Thank you for printing with us!
Friday, July 18th 2014
Splendid is a handsome collection of black and white ink drawings from illustrator Samuel St. Leger. The 16-page digital tabloid includes a centrefold drawing of the Raft of Medusa and a wrap-around cover featuring this dour chap, Sea-weed Sad-face:
It’s a great little publication available in The Newsagent now for £6.50 including delivery. We asked Samuel to tell us about the project:
The idea behind Splendid (in as much as it can be said to have any idea behind it at all) was that I wanted to collect together some of the illustrations I had made at the time. There isn’t really a coherent theme to the paper, and each image is printed large enough to be considered on its own, though in general I tend towards nostalgic images, often tainted/mutated/warped by the passing of time and all rendered in a harsh black and white line which borrows somewhat from woodcuts, engravings, and comics.
I have always loved the look and feel of newsprint and this project seemed to finally be something where I could marry the two — my black and white illustrations printed in a newspaper. It hadn’t escaped my attention that several artists also used newspapers to produce limited run comics and the like (Chris Ware being the easiest one to spring to mind) and I think I hoped to make Edition 1 from a backlog of work, print it and sell the whole run, then move on to Edition 2, 3, 4 etc.
I really didn’t have to search that hard to find Newspaper Club — literally just Googled ‘newspaper printing UK’ I think — and the site was the first to appear that was able to make short runs, in a good turn-around period and at a price I could understand and afford. Also, upon further investigation, Newspaper Club are very human, helpful and engaged — especially when I had a small flap about using process black or 100% CMYK black for my edition.
I faffed around quite a bit with the ordering and layout of my paper, and having decided on a short run, set about making a wrap-around cover (combined with a centrefold image, both things I remember as massive selling points for comics and fanzines of my youth) and drawing a couple of new bits. Then I sent it to print and waited.
The best bit was when the box arrived at my workplace and I scrabbled at it pulling newspapers out. As I work in a creative agency a fair few people there were interested in the paper and bought them immediately. I still love to look through Splendid and it brings me immense satisfaction as an object to be interacted with and as a record of my work at that time. I have a couple left on my shelves in my studio, and every now and then, if I sell something via Etsy or the like I will chuck a copy in as a bonus!
You can find more of Samuel’s drawings and musings on his blog. Thank you for printing with us!