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Updated 11:30 AM December 6, 2004
 

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Education group revives news service for young people

Two days after the November election, the headline read "Oh Canada, Here I Come." A new entry from Dec. 1 makes the declaration: "Bombs Instead of Text Books." Yet another story from earlier in the fall suggests that National Hockey League players and the union should settle their contract dispute.

These and other stories can be found on a recently re-launched not-for-profit online news service aimed at young people and backed by the U-M Interactive Communications and Simulations Group (ICS).

Highestwire.com, originally intended to be a news wire service for high school newspapers, has grown to include publications and articles by college students, civic groups, political organizations, fiction writers' clubs and sports organizations.

"One of the things young people are after is news with a viewpoint, journalism that is open and honest about points of view," says Gary Weisserman, education professor and part of ICS. "This allows them to be not just consumers of news, but contributors, reporting on what's important in their communities. This is a program that really blurs the line between curricular and extra-curricular activities, which is something we need more of."

The School of Education's ICS has served the K-12 and University communities for more than 20 years. Activities focus on using computers as tools to accentuate and improve classroom learning, often in the form of games and simulation activities. Thousands of students from more than 400 public and private schools in 36 states and 25 countries have been involved in the group's exercises.

Karen Schwartz, a spring 2004 graduate who began working with Weisserman and ICS while still in high school, began the effort while at U-M serving as the site's editor in chief at the same time she worked for The Michigan Daily. She still works on the site while studying for a master's degree at Columbia University.

One of her classmates, December 2003 graduate Maria Sprow, now a reporter for the Chelsea Standard, also serves as an editor. Soojung Chang, a 2004 graduate and associate editor, currently works as a copy editor for the Cambodia Daily.

"We're trying to give young people a voice in news," Schwartz says. "They write articles on the issues they feel matter most then connect with peers locally and globally to share their perspectives. Highestwire.com brings the news closer to home and lets participants know they are being heard."

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