Whether working with siblings or other kids remotely, the teamwork required in establishing duties and meting out responsibilities cannot be underestimated. This phase is guaranteed to raise tempers; there may be tears. You may want to skip this phase altogether, but that’s a bad idea, unless you plan to publish “The Lord of the Flies Herald.” Once you have a sports editor, someone in charge of the cover art, a photo director, a makeshift city desk, perhaps even a food critic, tasks will flow easier and kids will come out stronger on the other side.
(Note: This even works if a single child is producing the whole paper — it helps to know the different jobs there are to do.)
Gather the stories.
The first thing a reporter needs to know is where to get information. This is a great opportunity for kids to learn the difference between primary sources (an interview with the owner of a local music store) and secondary sources (reading a reliable article about the best music of 2020). While primary sources are always preferable, they’re not always necessary — and an interview with Camila Cabello is probably not in the cards.
The best reporting usually involves interviewing an expert. This might sound daunting until they realize: Everyone is an expert in something. The expert may be a teacher or a student talking about virtual learning, the owner of a dog rescue explaining how to adopt a pit bull or a local librarian on the best scary books for fifth graders.
The young reporter’s job is to find experts who can supply information that is both factual and relevant.
It may not always be possible to obtain interviews, so an understanding of credible online sources is important. Any Google search will most likely take the reporter to Wikipedia, for example. But given that it is a crowdsourced content hub, Wikipedia cannot be trusted as a credible source. A good alternative is brittanica.com, any website with a .gov or .edu address, a reliable newspaper or Google Scholar (which is reliable, if a bit dense for kids).
For the novice, a question-and-answer format is a great place to start since it doesn’t require much writing beyond transcribing the interview. Writing an actual article — one with an introduction, supporting facts and a conclusion — is terrific practice and often mirrors what sixth and seventh graders are learning in school. (It’s also fun to pick out examples of writing forms for kids to play with: profiles, recipes, captions, news blurbs, even hot takes.)