A newspaper for our times by Kids. “Six Feet of Separation”

Could children ‘report’ on how Coronavirus is ravaging their world? I came across a newspaper that does just that!

It was a project begun  by a father of two children in San Francisco, to engage the children of a small neighborhood called Bernal Heights who were bored, suddenly separated from their friends, and unable to process the changes taking place in our world. “What concerned me were the 7,000 other things going on inside our children, the complex internal rearrangements we wouldn’t begin to comprehend, let alone address, for years. Hell, we have no idea what’s happening in ourselves these days.”

Chris Colin emailed friends and neighbors to see if their children would like to send in stories, poems, drawings etc for a newspaper.  A flood of submissions ensued, and over the weeks he was receiving contributions from  other parts of the country and the world. The name of the newspaper was selected by children, and is fittingly called Six Feet of Separation.

One of the contributors in this recent issue writes a poem about (actually to) Coronavirus.

“I miss all my friends,
I miss all my family,
So now go on and reunite, with MERS and SARS,
And don’t you bring them back,
We will all be happy.”

The newspaper is published on an eBook platform, Flipsnack, which I use in school for a student project. It’s not fancy, but it works! There’s lots of art, a ‘Data’ division, and even an Editorial Page. A hand-made crossword, criticism, fan fiction and more.  This June 13th edition has 24 pages!

A project like this is significant for many reasons. First, it comes at a time when hometown newspapers are being shuttered.  Then there’s the problem of news being hijacked by the adult-made, and politically-crafted news cycle that focuses on aspects of life that are alien and irrelevant to our younger generation. A generation whom Chris Colin rightly observes would in a short time take over the reins from our tired hands. News about angry press conferences, and tax returns make it seem as if nothing else is happening in the world. Six Feet of Separation fills that gap, and addresses those things that children care/worry about.  Let’s give them a platform. And please give them your attention.

Meaning, read this kids-made newspaper!

Filtering social media stories into ‘newspaper’

This is an interesting reverse phenomenon.

We’re used to traditional media being massaged into (‘poured into’ might be the more appropriate term) digital formats to create new distribution feeds.

So I was intrigued by the way a Swiss-based startup, Small Rivers, lets me pull in digital feeds from Twitter and Facebook, and create the look and feel of a newspaper.

Here is a look at my newspaper for today, 28 January, 2011.


Now I grant, this smacks of a vanity press affair, but if we think slightly outside of the ‘Daily Me’ the ease of generating an aggregation of  content might be give us  different approach to corporate newsletters. I subscribe to a lot of newsletters, or pull them in via an RSS reader. These custom news sheets, could be open up a new level of variable data print options, too.

Many years ago I managed a Print On Demand for a Marcom portal. It seemed liked the coolest thing at that time, but seriously lacked the kind of customization I was always asking for. That was because it lived inside a print company –tied to an Indigo machine— and not a digital content aggregator. Today, an organization with a team of writers who create content in a handful of social media channels could collaborate on a newspaper, and not even think of themselves as being in the news business. They could be marketers, researchers, videographers and bloggers whose output is turned into a news channel once a week.

No Indigo required!

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