During the recent rancorous election cycle, two Edina middle school students launched a free online newspaper to give their peers another choice for news.
The newspaper, called the Philosopher’s Papers, includes current news, a society section and a daily newsletter.
“We started out as a book debate,” said Aditi Jha, an 11-year-old sixth-grader at Valley View Middle School, “and it’s crazy how that expanded to this newspaper.”
In late September, Jha, classmate Patricio Loria-Procel, and two other classmates wanted to expand on a project they were assigned in their reading class. Jha created a Google Hangouts chat so the group could discuss the project.
“Eventually, that conversation morphed into philosophy, and that philosophy turned into the desire to share it with all of our friends, and the desire to share all the epiphanies that kept entering our minds,” said Jha. “Patricio got the idea for a book of philosophy, but I suggested we should turn it into a newspaper.”
The other two classmates dropped out due to the increasing time commitment and other challenges. Jha, and Loria-Procel, 12, proceeded with the project — “two passionate writers determined on the betterment of our community,” Jha said.
The goal for the newspaper, she said, “is to educate society on current affairs and what matters the most to our community. Since kids would feel more inclined to read material written by people their age, this is also an attempt to further educate and interest teens about modern happenings and topics in the world around us.”
Up-to-the-minute news summaries have included the makeup of President-elect Joe Biden’s COVID-19 task force, Georgia’s upcoming runoff for two Senate seats, and updates on the 2020 U.S. Census.
Daily reports conclude with a cheery, “That’s the news for today! Stay safe!”
Jha said the newspaper is an attempt “to let kids know that they can express themselves, and that they have a voice, not to be suppressed by the belief that adults are the only ones who can manage the spread of education today.”
With any startup there are challenges and Jha and Loria-Procel have dealt with several.
“We enjoy discussing the topics for sections in society and news over Zoom,” said Jha. But getting the news ready every morning for the newsletter and establishing the website have been more daunting.
“Building our website and finding ways to grow and improve has been more difficult,” she said, such as learning what SEO is and responding quickly to technical difficulties.
Barbara Wainberg, who meets with Jha to discuss reading enrichment, has been impressed with Jha’s perseverance.
“Her intelligence and insight are beyond her years,” Wainberg said of Jha.
“Such engaged and thoughtful children are a treasure. Their work begs sharing.”
Jha said that the project has been a tremendous learning experience for her and Loria-Procel.
“I think that society’s love of news and politics is what surprised me,” said Jha, noting that she now regularly follows publications including the New York Times, Star Tribune, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal.
Jha added that she’s happy to see how much Loria-Procel has gained from their collaboration.
“[He] has always had a love for philosophy, but this newspaper empowered that love and he learned so much in a short span of time, realizing that the world we live in can be affected a lot by little changes.”
Jha said she has gotten positive feedback.
“My family has been very supportive of the Philosopher’s Papers, and I feel very fortunate that I have them to opine on my articles,” said Jha.
“My parents are happy that I am writing about current affairs rather than medieval fantasy novels.”
(To read the Philosopher’s Papers, go to sites.google.com/isd273.org/tpp/home).