Don’t call it NIE

Oct 15, 2021

CEO, Kid Scoop

In its heyday, Newspaper in Education (NIE) was hailed for circulation growth. The fact that teachers in NIE classrooms were building media literacy and teaching how to recognize facts from opinion was often beside the point. Circulation was king.

Then print morphed into digital, and classrooms weren’t quite ready for technology. Classrooms lacked wiring and equipment. NIE faded away, and with it, media literacy. Even when technical updates came to classrooms, the digital media landscape came populated with dubious websites purporting to furnish “news.”

Now there is an urgent need for rebirth of a classroom media literacy initiative — to be led by local community newspapers. The new purpose is clear: make a social investment in education with the key message that a newspaper plays a valuable role in the community. This enhances the value of your newspaper.

At this challenging time, we believe it is important to change the name of your media literacy effort from Newspaper in Education to this: Education Outreach Program—led by an Education Outreach Manager. Place the word “Education” first because it provides a larger context, one that most everyone agrees is important. The word “outreach” establishes your determination to connect with the community—educators, parents, the whole community.

We believe there are Four Pillars of a strong, sustainable Education Outreach Program. These are:

#1 – HELP

Teachers at the elementary and middle school level are very busy teaching basic reading and math skills, plus developing knowledge and understanding of science, history, geography, literature. Persuading busy teachers to bring your newspaper into their classrooms requires including educational content. Teachers need the weekly Kid Scoop youth feature or some other educational content to help them use the newspaper easily, effectively. (We just happen to think Kid Scoop is the best because it is sound educational content while joyously fun for children, as well as for adults learning English, and family members.)


Before a school, a school district, a teacher, or business sponsors can commit to becoming partners in your education program, they need to know about it, understand its value and get so excited about it that they want to participate. Marketing and building your Education Outreach Program to become an institution in your community takes a marketing plan. (We help our Kid Scoop customers with complimentary planning and marketing materials, including house ads ready to run.)


Your Education Outreach Program becomes successful and sustainable once the revenue stream is in place. This starts with setting goals that are healthy, and then establishing a revenue development plan to achieve them. (We at Kid Scoop offer complimentary help with revenue-development planning.)


All of the above probably seem obvious to you, but it is this fourth pillar that makes the real difference. You and your publication demonstrate commitment to education in your community by devoting a page a week to an educational youth feature. You commit to providing the work space and support for a person to run the Education Outreach Program. When you work with your new partners—both educators and funders—you need to do more than sell them on supporting your newspaper:

Enroll them in the importance of literacy in your community.

Develop their deep commitment to education using your newspaper so that they don’t have to be re-sold each year. (I have many newspapers whose sponsors, donors, simply send in a check each year, some without being reminded. How to develop commitment is also what Kid Scoop provides in our complimentary outreach training.)

My last recommendation is: look for a committed funding partner to underwrite your Education Outreach Manager for the first two years, with the goal of the position becoming funded by future revenue development in years three or four. Make a big deal of the partnership—it will attract other partners, and your social investment partner could very well step in to help raise additional sponsorship funds. Look for a company, a foundation, even an individual committed to the importance of literacy as fundamental to the vitality of your community.

Your newspaper is vital to the health of your community. Education is the core of healthy community growth. Kid Scoop will partner with you to establish and sustain education in your community.

Vicki Whiting is the CEO and creator-writer of Kid Scoop, a weekly youth feature for children ages 7-14. Kid Scoop is published in more than 300 newspapers in the United States and abroad. She began creating Kid Scoop in her third-grade classroom in 1988, using her local weekly newspaper, the Sonoma (California) Index-Tribune.