Wednesday, 3 February 2021

Kid Reporter: The secret to breaking news

Kid Reporter: The secret to breaking news by Saffron Howden and Dhana Quinn (New South) PB RRP $27.99 ISBN 9781742237169

Reviewed by Dianne Bates

Journalist Annabel Crabbe says on the cover of this bright yellow book, ‘This book is like a 200-page cadetship for the smart, curious kid in your life.’ In fact, the book’s authors say you don’t need to be an adult to break news and change the world. You can start your career as a young reporter right now (and numerous children have.)

The book’s authors certainly have rungs on the ladder: co-author Saffron Howden started and edited Australia’s only national newspaper for kids, Crinkling News, and pioneered children’s news literacy programs. She has also worked for major news organisations, including the Sydney Morning Herald, Daily Telegraph, and AAP. The other co-author Dhana Quinn has worked as a radio, television and print journalist. Dhana has written for school-aged audiences at Crinkling News and was a presenter and reporter on the ABC’s education program Behind the News. 

This fun, easy-to-use guide gives kids the scoop on how to become a junior journalist – and it’s the first book on the topic for Australian kids. In Kid Reporter, young readers will learn how to research, investigate, and interview, write, produce, photograph and record, fact-check and edit, even how to start a school newspaper, create a TV-style news show, or a current affairs website or podcast.

The book starts Part I with the most basic question, ‘What does a reporter do?’ and then proceeds to Part II: ‘On assignment’. Other parts of the book are How to be a News Detective,’ and ‘Get Ready to Publish’. Kid Reporter helps kids navigate the daily deluge of media, information and ‘fake news’ and grasp the tools to become a responsible creator themselves. Packed with inspiring stories from young people who have already started their reporting careers, and tips from some of Australia’s and the world’s leading journalism experts, this fun, easy-to-use guide gives kids the scoop on how to become a junior journalist.

Copies of newspaper clippings, line drawings, break-out boxes, lists, and frequent sub-headings contribute to the book’s accessibility. One of the most interesting stories is about 11-year-old American Hilde Lysiak who started a monthly newspaper from her home: it covered everything that affected her community – from local sporting heroes and suburb clean-ups to much harder news, such as drug buses and robberies. Hilde says, ‘If you take yourself seriously, other people will take you seriously, too.

There is even an article headlined ‘Don’t be Fooled by Fake News’, and helpfully, an index and list of resources at the end of the book. It appears the authors have covered every base. This book is sure to be a hit with any child who asks lots of questions and demands answers!

Highly recommended for readers aged 8+ years.

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