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Japanese Newspaper Develops Smartphone App That Makes Articles & Reports Child-Friendly
February 12, 2013
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You know that old saying, "everything old is new again." Well, that sentiment captures the spirit of this story pretty well.

For years, we've been hearing that the conventional newspaper is dying as more and more people go to the internet to get their news.

It's just the reality of modern technology.

Well now, one of Japan's biggest newspapers is using technology to target the next generation of readers - without getting rid of the actual paper.

The Tokyo Shimbun worked with an advertising firm to create an app that "changes articles for adults into articles for children".

All the child has to do is hold a smartphone over an article in the paper, and they'll get a child-friendly version - with simpler language and cartoon animation.

Check out the video at the top. In it, the narrator explains that "newspapers were not made for children."

"If newspapers became readable to children, they will contribute to family communication and child's education."

In the video, a dad shows the paper to his son, who holds his smartphone over the page. Suddenly, stories light up, and cartoon characters pop up to explain the stories.

"Difficult articles on social problems, economy and politics become interesting subjects for children," the video says. "The newspapers become a media read by both adult and child, and also an education tool for children."

It makes sense that a Japanese newspaper would try this. As of last year, 92 per cent of Japanese adults still read a physical newspaper each day.

As Wired points out, "It also offers an interesting way to turn an otherwise static piece of printed content on a page into something interactive that adapts to who is reading it at the time."

It goes on to say, "it helps that the app also gives companies a reason to pay more for advertising space, if it means they can turn a flat 2D rectangle into a whizz-pop cartoon that can sell sweets and such to children."

Paul Bradshaw is an expert who blogs on new technology in journalism.

He told the BBC "What it's really about is something that's been talked about for a long time, about content being presented in different ways depending on who the user is."

"It means two versions of the content - a grown-up one and the kids one. That has enormous potential. It also tackles a big gap in young readership."

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