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Newsademic.com: The international newspaper for the younger reader Review by Wayne S. WalkerEditedSusan Elkin, Editor
210 Upper Richmond Road
London SW15 6NP, England
020 8816 8781
Newsademic is an easy-to-read newspaper, along the lines of Weekly Reader, Scholastic Magazine, or God's World News, published in London, England, for young readers and anyone studying English as a foreign language. Its purpose is to educate and inform readers about current international news stories. Distributed by e-mail every two weeks on Friday mornings, it can be read on screen but has been designed to be printed out and read as a paper copy. There are plenty of full-color photographs, maps, and other helpful illustrations. Since it is probably intended primarily for educational institutions, schools can buy a school subscription and make as many photocopies as they wish for a standard subscription price, or they can buy a license and put Newsademic on the school's intranet. However, individual subscriptions are also available.
The website says, "Newsademic has no political or ideological bias. Stories are reported factually and every attempt is made to feature both sides of any situation in which opinions differ." I appreciate the desire to be neutral and fact-based rather than to pursue an agenda. The website also says, "It is carefully written and edited for young people and English language students. It does not carry advertising. Neither does it feature articles about television, sport, computer games, pop music or celebrity culture. The focus is on fortnightly international news events which shape and affect the world that we live in today." It is helpful for our children to have a knowledge of the events that are going on around us in the world. Unfortunately, much of the news media in our country is heavily biased, so perhaps a different perspective would be beneficial. I appreciate as well the fact that television, pop music, and celebrity culture are avoided. Children get too much of that already.
I contacted the Newsademic to ask some questions about any presuppositions that might underlie their approach and also asked their targeted age. Stephen Bradly replied, "As stated, we do try to be neutral. And where opinions differ we state both sides of any argument. That said, the people who put together the articles for Newsademic share beliefs in free speech, religious tolerance, democracy as the best form of government, free trade, free market economies, and respect for every individual and his or her personal views (within reason). We have also all had Christian upbringings. So, in some instances, it is possible that the thought processes behind our own beliefs and roots may 'creep' into some of the articles."
Stephen also wrote, "Newsademic is targeted at 9-16-year-olds. But we have received feedback from readers outside this age group, above and below, who enjoy reading it too. In many respects it depends on the ability of each individual child--or the desire of their parents or teachers to encourage them read it! Originally Newsademic was just aimed at native English speakers, but we were surprised at the interest shown by language schools and older children/young adults who are studying English as a second language. So our 'English language student' readership age bracket is in the region of 15-25."
Concerning the question of presuppositions, the April 13, 2006, issue that Stephen e-mailed to me includes the article "Evolutionary Link Found." It begins, "Scientists have known for many years that life began in water. So part of evolution was the development of water creatures into land animals." The main point was that an evolutionary link between water creatures and land animals has supposedly been found, and in this instance there was nothing that stated "both sides" of the argument. So creationist families might want to look out for evolutionary biases. I might point out that those of us who do operate from a Christian perspective do not always demand that every resource we use come from that background, but it is helpful to know a little about a source's background when evaluating it.
Newsademic is a subscription-based publication. It is distributed as a printable file (in PDF format) to each subscriber's email address, so the recipient must have Adobe Acrobat Reader, which can be downloaded for free. People can buy subscriptions to Newsademic for themselves or on behalf of family members, friends, and relatives. One may choose a subscription for 26 or 52 issues. Subscribers are asked to complete a simple registration procedure at the website and pay by credit card, PayPal account, Internet banking, international bank transfer, or posted check (British pounds only).
The March 30, 2006, issue that was sent to me for review had 22 news articles. Religion is not avoided. The lead article is about the four "Christian pacifists" who were taken hostage in Baghdad; one of whom-an American-was killed. The others were eventually freed. Another article was about the Afghan Muslim who was arrested for converting to Christianity. As with all news sources, one must read everything critically. An article on how carbon emissions affect the poor most says, "... industrialised countries like the UK have high levels of carbon emissions. These are partly what caused drought and floods in poorer countries." It would have been more accurate to say, "These may have contributed to draught and floods in poor countries." And there are the inevitable differences in British and American idioms. An article about recent voting in Ukraine says, "But many people said that the election had been fiddled." That might sound somewhat strange to American children. One other item that needs to be pointed out to parents who are trying to teach their children proper American grammar is that Newsademic follows the annoying British usage of not using periods after abbreviations like Mr. and Mrs.
In addition to the articles, there is a highlighted world map that shows the location of all the countries featured in the various news reports. A prize competition with both a crossword puzzle and a word search, each based on highlighted words used in the articles and their definitions, and at least one review of a worthwhile new book or film are included in each issue. The one that I read featured a Dorling-Kindersley biography of John F. Kennedy. At the website, you can preview a sample issue and ask to receive the latest issue free of charge. The subscription price is �20 for 26 issues or �36 for 52 issues, which translates to around US $35 and $62.50 for a 26- and 52-issue subscription respectively, but this may vary slightly with the exchange rate on any given day. If parents who educate at home are interested in providing more age-appropriate resources for their children to study about international affairs as part of their history and geography curriculum, I believe that Newsademic would be a good educational gift for children, relatives, friends, or anyone studying or teaching English as a foreign language.