Why We Need News Services for Australian Children

Snapshot of Crinkling News home page

Click on this image to see Crinkling News in action.

Crinkling News is an Australian newspaper for children. Each week it brings news and current affairs to children aged between seven and fourteen years old. It also provides children with opportunities to do reporting and editing. Crinkling News is staffed by professional journalists and advised by a child psychologist so the content is age appropriate and has high standards for its news reporting. As Crinkling News points out, children are curious about the wider world, but regular news and current affairs media do not explain what is going on in a manner suitable for children.

I don’t have children in this age group so I had not heard of this newspaper until the last fortnight when Crinkling News launched a campaign to raise funds on Indiegogo. Children love the newspapers as do parents, grandparents and teachers, but without more funds for business development it will have to close.

In an era when the idea of truth is being battered; when social media is too often a conduit for rumours, innuendo and hate; when superficiality is lauded over complexity; our children need their own sources of reliable news. We want them to become informed, inquiring adults. They cannot do this if they grow up hearing snippets from scare-mongering current affairs programs and reading social media posts peddling falsities that have been dressed up as news. Continue reading

Australia’s Historic Newspapers Online

Me reading an old copy of The Age in front of 2 monitors

When I was 10 I kept a newspaper recording a leap in the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in Australia to 1.7%! This newspaper also reported on the first days of President Ford in office. However, increasingly old newspapers are freely available online.

We all know where to go to access Australia’s historic newspapers online – the National Library of Australia’s Trove website.  This site has deservedly received heaps of praise.  It has a good search facility, there is no charge for use of the website and it has an effective means of correcting errors in the optical character recognition (OCR) reading of the newspaper text – crowd-sourced transcription.  The list of newspapers available on this website is impressive and growing.

Digitising Australia’s newspapers is a herculean task.  For the size of the population Australia had a large number of newspapers – just take a look at the list of newspapers published in the central goldfields region of Victoria between 1851 and 1901 (Hughes, 2003, pp. 18-48). Elizabeth Morrison notes that a directory of newspapers published in 1888 recorded nearly 600 newspapers being published in Australia at the time (Morrison, 2001), p. 471). Many issues of old Australian newspapers have not been kept, but even so the libraries in Australia face a time-consuming and expensive task to digitise those that have remained.  While the Trove database is wonderful, historians need to be ever-conscious that not all newspapers have been digitised and some significant newspapers in Australia’s history such as Queensland’s Worker, and Melbourne’s, The Age, are not available on the Trove website.

Google News Archive

Yesterday through Twitter we discovered that some old copies of The Age are available online through the Google News Archive.  There were mutterings of disappointment earlier this year when Google announced that it would no longer be adding new material to this project, but the digitised newspapers that have already been placed online through this project are still available.  A list of newspapers on this site is available but it does not include the places where the newspapers were published and it is very difficult to tell from the titles.  I thought I would trawl through the titles and try to identify the Australian papers that are on the list.  I have probably missed some – please write a comment to let me know of others and I will add them to this list.  I have not listed those newspapers that are also available on Trove because you will want to access them on Trove as it has better facilities for users. Continue reading