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Russian orphans judge newspaper content

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Источник:MHM
By Charles Maynes
Thursday, 11 June 2009
Russian orphans selection best newspaperNewspapers looking to connect with younger readers might want to consider a Russian solution that sounds simple enough: let children have a say about what content they find compelling.

During Russia’s recent Best Regional Newspaper competition , event organizers left judging in the children’s news page category to those the pages are intended for.

Seven orphans with special needs from the Moscow-based charity Maria’s Children served as jury members for the contest.
Judges ranging in age from eight to 10 were tasked with sifting through entries, reading the articles and testing out all puzzles and games.

Russian orphans picking the winning newspapersPublications they found the most engaging were then ranked by scale.

According to Maria Eismont, Director of the New Eurasia Foundation’s Media program, a key organizer of the event, listening to the children’s opinions was an eye opener.

«So often adults think they understand children’s needs when in fact it turns out that children sometimes like something completely different.»

Eismont said that in previous years of the competition, the children’s news pages were judged by an international adult jury that also weighed entries for investigative stories, editorials, and feature writing.

«Some of the best editors in the business have served as judges in the competition, but they seemed a bit confused when it came to evaluating news for children.  So we thought we would bring in the real professionals.»

«Some of the best editors in the business have served as judges in the competition, but they seemed a bit confused when it came to evaluating news for children.  So we thought we would bring in the real professionals.»

It turns out that the newsroom and the playroom occasionally see eye-to-eye.

Russian orphans picking the winning newspapersAmong the finalists, the children’s jury picked two leading regional tabloids. Sloboda from the city of Tula and Strana Kaliningrad from Kaliningrad both feature colorful family-oriented inserts that would be familiar to readers of children’s pages in Europe or the United States.

But the jury also preferred the black and white publication Gazeta+ from Karelia, whose children’s news page consists solely of articles by children.

10-year old jury member, Vanya, particularly approved of an article entitled How Wonderful The Fairy Tales, a critique of the revered Russian writer/poet Alexander Pushkin by a third grader.

Russian orphans picking the winning newspapers«I love Pushkin’s story about fisherman,» Vanya said.  «It teaches children not to be greedy.»

The question may arise whether Moscow orphans best represent the target audience of newspapers and how similar their tastes are to those of children elsewhere.

Eismont says that while the approach is far from scientific, the experiment has already caught on with regional Russian publications.

«Several of our regional newspaper partners are already talking about doing their own children’s focus groups,» she said.

«Next year we’re looking to expand the jury.  Let’s see what the fifth graders have to say.»


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