Back in 2007, on a late spring day, one Canadian mother woke up in the morning, preparing to embark upon her normal am routine: get ready for work, make the kids some breakfast, check the newspaper headlines—the usual.
Except for one thing. That morning, her four-year-old girls were hanging around the kitchen when they saw the front page of their daily newspaper. That paper was casually laying on the kitchen table of their Toronto home.
Above the fold of the front page was a devastating picture of a young, disheveled, stricken Pakistani girl. She had been the victim of a terrible earthquake that had struck the country. That image haunted her four-year-old twins. “Because it was another suffering child, it really affected them,” their mother, Golnar Khosrowshahi, tells me. Khosrowshahi, who manages a music publishing business, was born in Iran, and later educated in England and the U.S.
Her kids were not ready to face such a tragic story, which was foisted on them by the newspaper. “Suddenly, I had to answer all these questions for them,” Khosrowshahi tells me. Questions like: what is an earthquake? What happens when the earthquake kills your parents? What happens when your house is destroyed? Will earthquakes happen here?
Since that day, Khosrowshahi became preoccupied with a question of her own: how do you package news in a kid-friendly way? That question, eventually, led her to create a news website, aimed at 7 to 13 year olds, called GoGoNews.com, which officially launched on Monday.
“We created GoGoNews to inform kids about world events in a safe manner, feeding their young, inquisitive minds with real news, while also protecting them from content that is too sophisticated or beyond their comprehension,” Khosrowshahi says.
Consider the example of Osama bin Laden’s death.
Here is how GoGoNews covered it in an article titled, "Who Is Osama bin Laden?":
Osama bin Mohammad bin Awad bin Ladin was the founder of an organization called al-Qaeda. This organization is known as being the group responsible for the September 11, 2001 attacks. The most significant of the attacks on 9/11 was when two airplanes were flown into the World Trade Center in New York City otherwise known as the twin towers. He has been on the American FBI's list of the Ten Most Wanted Fugitives for many years and has successfully escaped capture for the past ten years. It is believed that during this time, he has been hiding throughout Afghanistan and most recently, Pakistan. Yesterday, a team of United States Navy SEALs confirmed that they had killed bin Laden in the city of Abbottabad, Pakistan. This day marks a victory for the United States, President Obama and the war on terrorism.
Khosrowshahi explains the reasoning behind the brevity of the news item: “The message of the entire story is: this is a bad guy so the government killed him.”
And that's all kids need to know. She adds, for instance, that GoGoNews did not cover related aspects of the story—like al Qaeda’s plans for further terror attacks, bin Laden’s multiple wives, or the issue of the dead bin Laden picture—because it would be too much for children to digest.
Khosrowshahi also explains that her news site will not cover the multiple airplane terror scares. Her philosophy for kid-friendly news is that it's on a "need to know basis." And kids don't need to know about terror scares that turned out to be false alarms. "It will only scare them the next time they take a family trip on a plane."
Instead, Khosrowshahi's website creates a wholesome and informative environment--aimed completely at children. The website's categories, for instance, are a little different than what you'd see on CNN.com or the home page of ABC:
The "Fun" heading might be especially interesting to your children--it's full of jokes and brainteasers. You can check out the different types of news stories by category here. Some standout stories include, "How Shakespeare Changed Everything!," "The $25 Computer!", and "Young Footballer!"
Not only are the news categories different, but so is the website layout. You won't do too much scrolling on this website because, Khosrowshahi tells me, kids don't do a lot of scrolling. You also won't see banner-style adds: "Children cannot distinguish between banner ads and regular content."
Ultimately, Khosrowshahi hopes that the website will gain more and more readers, be used as an educational tool in classrooms, and even begin publishing articles by some of its young readers. "There's a lot of growth potential here. We're really excited."
For more on GoGoNews, check out the website, and read the below release:
GoGoNews, the online news resource for children, today launched GoGoNews.com, an interactive web site featuring daily news for school children ages seven to 13 years old. GoGoNews.com features popular headlines from mainstream media with filtered content, informing children of global events while simultaneously protecting them from images and story details appropriate for more mature audiences. In addition to breaking news, GoGoNews covers Science, Art, Government, Politics and Geography, offering fun facts and stories that capture children’s attention and encourage exploration of new subjects.
Designed to provide parents and teachers with interesting topics to engage children in conversation and expand their knowledge, GoGoNews provides a safe means for addressing the harsh realities of today’s world. The site is organized by “Headlines,” covering breaking news; “Cool & Fun,” containing items like brain teasers, puzzles and jokes; “Picks,” with editor’s and children’s recommendations on top books, toys, and gift ideas; “Planet,” featuring interesting facts about space and the environment; “Talk,” providing a forum for kids and parents to post feedback, comments and ideas; and “Teach,” guiding parents and educators with suggestions for how to approach difficult news topics and innovative ways to introduce new lessons. Each story is packed with facts, but concise enough to keep young readers engaged and hungry for the next article, which can be readily accessed with the site’s simple and intuitive navigation.
“We created GoGoNews to inform kids about world events in a safe manner, feeding their young, inquisitive minds with real news, while also protecting them from content that is too sophisticated or beyond their comprehension,” said Golnar Khosrowshahi, founder and editor in chief of GoGoNews. “As a parent, I want my children to grow up and be educated in a global context; to think of countries near and far as their neighbors who do things just a little differently. I believe that the next generation of leaders will be those who have grown up connected to the world around them intellectually, academically and socially. With GoGoNews, we are creating the opportunity for children to improve their literacy, gain a new vocabulary and learn about different people, countries, and cultures in a fun and entertaining format.”
Khosrowshahi started GoGoNews for her then five-year-old twin daughters in 2007 after they saw a newspaper cover with a devastating photograph of a little girl after an earthquake in Pakistan. Rather than ignoring her daughters’ ensuing questions and finding them an alternative distraction, Khosrowshahi explained earthquakes and the types of damage they can cause. The interest, emotions and discussion that followed inspired Khosrowshahi to create a daily online newsletter for her girls. The result was a compilation of culled headlines and relevant data that encouraged conversation about what they read, learned and felt about the news. The newsletter quickly gained a following among family, friends and elementary schools and led to the creation of GoGoNews.com, which, unlike other similarly branded news sources geared for children, is updated 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Today, GoGoNews is compiled by an editorial team, with consultation and input from an advisory board that includes teachers, child psychologists, curriculum specialists and various educators who guide classroom discussion and materials and advise on the treatment of stories about natural disaster.
GoGoNews is currently being syndicated to elementary schools throughout the United States and Canada via the newsletter, GoGo On The Go. To learn more about GoGoNews, and how to best share global news with young people, visit www.gogonews.com.
About GoGo News
GoGoNews was started in 2007 by Golnar Khosrowshahi, who had a desire to inform her twin daughters, and all children, of the world around them in an educational and non-threatening way. Since its inception, GoGoNews has provided children with general knowledge as well as a consciousness and awareness of the world, regardless of geography or culture. Khosrowshahi attributes her Iranian-born heritage, United States education with advanced degrees, child-rearing in North America, entrepreneur experience, and international philanthropic efforts to her interest and acceptance of different communities, cultures and customs and aims to encourage young people to share this open mindedness through GoGoNews. GoGoNews provides parents and educators with subject matter to start a conversation with children and a safe means by which to deal with the harsh realities of the world in which we live. Most importantly, GoGoNews is fun!