Update: The Tween Tribune Goes To Schools

Tween TribuneIn France, President Nicolas Sarkozy announced a “rescue plan” for newspapers that would center around giving 18-year-olds with a free subscription to a daily of their choice saying, “The habit of reading the press starts very young.” How about as young as 9-13?

A while back we posted about a new tween news site called The Tween Tribune. The founder, newspaper veteran Alan Jacobson, emailed me over the weekend to thank us for pointing out safety and COPPA issues to be aware of and updated me on the site’s progress.  He wrote:

The site now has custom features which make it an educational platform. Teachers adore it...

The site was used for the first time in classrooms on Friday. Students in three classrooms posted more than 200 comments.

He also pointed me to a couple of posts from our friend Brien Reich at WeMedia including Are Tweens The Solution to the Newspaper Crisis? and OMG! A Newspaper for Tweens!

I’m not a big believer that print newspapers will survive in print. Assuming they don’t, let’s think about Jacobson’s niche aggregator model. Remember, the AP tried a targeted “youth” (18-34) news service called ASAP and pulled the plug while several other youth sections of newspapers and their online counterparts have also failed. What’s different in Jacobson’s model is the aggregator approach—this is basically a tween Digg except without the ability of tweens to vote stories up or down on the homepage (might be worth adding that level of participation).

The Tween Tribune’s biggest challenge is how to get tweens to visit the site in order to monetize through advertising. I’m not sure they can syndicate their content to other tween sites except through trying to push RSS feeds since it isn’t really their content. Partnering with schools is a great idea, though it may limit the types of advertising they can run on their site. They are also competing with established players like Scholastic and Weekly Reader who offer teachers’ guides along with original content to this age group.

We also know that young people are news grazers, surfing multiple sites and stopping when something interests them. The Tween Tribune may end up being part of this mix of aggregators and other news sources, but becoming a destination will be tough. And for younger tweens the internet is all about games—which explains the explosion in virtual worlds and casual gaming for this age group. For tween girls it’s also about hanging out and talking with each other (I can’t tell you how many, “I’m bored…anyone here?” type posts I have seen on tween girl sites). It will require parents and teachers to push tweens to the Tween Tribune as a destination…if tweens or even teens can save the news business by engaging at a young age, I think we (parents, teachers, other adults) have to point them to sites like this.

For more coverage of the tween space, check out the Ypulse Tweens Channel.

2 Comments

  1. Alan Jacobson

    Anastasia, you make a good point here:

    “The Tween Tribune’s biggest challenge is how to get tweens to visit the site in order to monetize through advertising.”

    Anastasia, TweenTribune solves that problem because teachers are ASSIGNING TeenTribune. Students are REQUIRED to use it. Teachers require students to participate by posting comments. So students are actively engaged in the site. And the traffic is guaranteed.

    It’s all part of the Newspaper-in-Education program. And the newspapers can sell targeted, local advertising onto the site - newspapers have more feet-on-the-street than any other local medium.

    As for competitors, my 10-year-old doesn’t like Scholastic, Weekly Reader and Time for Kids. She says the stories are boring, too complicated and the graphics are too baby-ish. And those products are once-a-week, while TweenTribune is updated daily.
    AP’s ASAP failed because 18-34 is too wide of an audience. Besides, this age group can use adult media products. But the news needs of Tweens are under-served.

    The reason young people are grazers is because they can’t find a site with the stuff they want. But I’ve seen tweens in the classroom using TweenTribune and they are totally engaged. TOTALLY.

  2. Ypulse Interview: Alan Jacobson, Tween Tribune &am

    [...] version Teen Tribune. To touch on some of the issues we've raised before, both in relation to the Tween Tribune model as well as wider industry challenges related to young readers. I caught up with Alan over email and [...]

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