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 4th 2014
There’s only a few weeks left of summer but never mind — this lovely photo book from photographer Takeshi Suga has us looking forward to wintry days. Winter Wonderland is a 12-page tabloid newspaper of dream-like Japanese landscapes photographed at the beginning of 2013. ‘The scenery I photograph is somewhat whimsical and delicate,’ writes Suga, ‘blurring the boundaries between reality and fantasy.’ Limited to 300 copies, the newspaper has an introduction from Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley of similarly dreamy pop band Tennis. Suga writes about his project:
In Winter Wonderland I am exploring the idea of a wonderland in wintertime Japan. Despite our culture being increasingly westernized and Christmas becoming almost as important of an event to celebrate as New Year’s, “Winter Wonderland”, a winter-time song written in 1934 by Felix Bernard and Richard B. Smith, is relatively unknown in Japan. This reminded me of the fact that we imported the word ‘wonderland’ and while a number of imported words and cultural elements such as ‘Christmas’ have been assimilated into Japanese culture, ‘wonderland’ is a word many Japanese people have heard of but many people have never wondered what it is. This in turn raised the question whether or not a wonderland can be discovered in Japan.
Through this sequence of imagery, I seek to convey that the idea of a winter wonderland, which was formed in the west, can also be applied to Japanese winter landscapes. Winter in some parts of Japan can be extremely harsh with heavy snowfall and fewer hours of sunlight than any other season but these images of landscapes show that becalmed beauty and wonder do exist in the moments of euphoric serenity the season also offers every now and then – that is where I believe Winter Wonderland resides.
Winter Wonderland is currently available at bookshops in 7 cities in 6 different countries– Kobe, Tokyo, London, Barcelona, Brussels, Oslo and Amsterdam.
You can order a copy of Winter Wonderland
online through Utakatado Publishing
. See more of Takeshi Suga’s work on his website
and keep up with upcoming projects on Instagram
. Thank you for printing with us!
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, 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!
Tuesday, June 10th 2014
For the last year, David Ross, Glasgow based designer (and NPC neighbour), has been working on a collaborative product to make beautiful flat pack lamps with a whole host other local illustrators, artists and designers.
His pondlife themed designs were created to “restore a little love for self-assembly furniture”, giving owners “a connection with the object, a greater understanding of the design and an increased sense of ownership of the product,” once they’ve teased together the simple, elegant frames.
David says: “The shades and frames were inspired by an ongoing interest in ponds, particularly the creatures, plants and structures that make up a pond’s ecosystem.”
Pond Life Laser Lamps by David Ross Design on Newspaper Club
“I made the newspapers for my exhibition primarily because I wanted the opportunity to give a greater background to the product I was launching (including information about 10 collaborators!) without having to print hundreds of sheets of paper in my studio.
Secondly, the newspaper is a far nicer object to pick-up and read than a few sheets of A4, and I hope people will be more likely to hang onto it.
And thirdly, with the Pond Life Laser Lamps I tried to create an honest and fun product – I feel that this is mirrored with a newspaper.”
The lamps are still on display now in an exhibition at the Lighthouse in Glasgow, and can be bought through the Lighthouse shop, Tojo, or David’s website here. They also happen to feature work by the great Chris Watson, who shares our office space, and one shade by yours truly.
Wednesday, February 26th 2014
There’s been some resonant coverage in the national papers recently about print publications. The Guardian posted a gallery of beautiful magazines setting out to prove print isn’t dead and considers the resurrection of the magazine in the digital age:
These magazines are…a result of the possibilities offered by the new technology that was supposed to kill print culture – they sell and distribute online, they crowdfund, they invent their own business models on the hoof.
We’re really proud to have been involved in some such crowd-funded and community-driven projects like The Peckham Peculiar, My Favo(u)rite Magazine and Revealing Craft (to name just a recent few) — all of which have used the intersection of physical and digital to create something quite special. Print succeeds today in novel and unexpected ways, evidenced by exciting (and now full-time!) enterprises like Stack Magazines, a brilliant subscription service that posts you a different independent magazine every month. Buying a magazine or newspaper isn’t just about getting the news anymore, it’s also a chance to experiment and discover something new – a way of bringing people and ideas together and creating something to be turned over and read again, not thrown away at the end of the day.
Not driven by celebrity or publicists’ schedules, the curated storytelling, often around a single theme, is closer to the storytelling of novels – they’re narrative journeys of ideas, pictures and activities…they offer the pleasures and possibilities of getting lost.
We’ve seen all sorts of orders come through our system since we started Newspaper Club, and still so many surprise us. We’re looking forward to seeing what happens as we continue to develop the Newsagent to help you find, and get lost in, some really brilliant newspapers.
Thursday, February 6th 2014
Marjan Van den Berghe is a visual artist based in Antwerp. Her newspaper, Krantje Loulé, is a rather haunting collection of black and white photographs taken in Portugal in the 1980s. The ghostly nature of the images really comes through in newsprint– it feels a bit like looking through a long lost scrapbook. We asked Marjan about her project:
I made this paper for my Portuguese friend, Fernando Correia Mendes (pictured below). He had an exibition in Antwerp, Belgium, where you could admire some of his daily drawings. I thought it would be nice if visitors could find out about his splendid photographic work too.
I found a book too conventional and expensive and looked for something more fragile, more enchanting, something that is more appropriate in look and feel. A journal, ‘een krantje’ as we say in Flemish, would be perfect! I teach graphic design at an art school in Brussels and we had one made for our summer exibition last year, so I already knew about Newspaper Club and their excellent services.
Fernando has thousands and thousands of photo negatives and it wasn’t easy to choose. The sometimes bizarre pictures that ended up in the paper are all from one specific period in the 80s, of the places and people in a small town in the Algarve, Loulé. A lot of these places have been demolished since then– people, ants and dogs died or left. Fernando’s dream is to have an big exhibition in this town with a range of the best pictures he took, invite everyone, and confront them with the ghosts of their past.
The pictures are accompanied by writings of Fernando Pessoa, Portugal’s best known poet.
We found this poem particularly lovely:
To be great, be whole: don’t exaggerate
Or leave out any part of you.
Be complete in each thing. Put all you are
Into the last of your acts.
So too in each lake, with it’s lofty life,
The whole moon shines
You can look through Krantje Loulé in the Newsagent and see more of Marjan’s work on her website. Thank you for printing with us!