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News web site pins its hopes on tweens


Veteran newspaper-design consultant Alan Jacobson has created a new web site, TweenTribune.com, to bring news to pre-adolescents, providing teachers with a new classroom tool and helping advertisers reach a market worth billions of dollars, reports the Los Angeles Times. In the few months since he has been pitching the web site in earnest, Jacobson has gained a foothold and seen his traffic grow several-fold. He’s using educators as his marketing and editing force and even has gotten a few publishers in the innovation-phobic newspaper industry to play along. Jacobson and his Norfolk, Va.-based web site will not save journalism. He won’t recapture the billions in ad revenue lost by newspapers over the last several years. But his ebullient innovation opens a door for an underserved audience and provides the kind of incremental revenue that eventually might rope journalism back to a financial mooring. As the parent of two girls, Jacobson knew that newspapers did not hold a lot of appeal for young people. But they did contain content that even pre-adolescents enjoyed. He envisioned TweenTribune as that bridge — gathering the kind of content from the Associated Press that would inspire lunch table or computer lab chatter. Young people would be encouraged not only to read the news but also to talk back. Said Jacobson: "You are not going to hook a 9-year-old on reading a newspaper every day, but you could hook them on this."

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