Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Oregon Papers Get SMART by Reading to Youngsters

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Oregon Papers Get SMART by Reading to Youngsters

Article excerpt

Several Oregon newspaper employees are reading to youngsters on company time in an unusual literacy program that is said to strengthen links between newspapers and their communities.

Newspapers ranging from the weekly Seaside Signal to the state's largest paper, the Portland Oregonian, are involved in the privately-funded program called SMART (Start Making a Reader Today), which is distinct from newspaper in education programs.

Signal publisher Kevin Widdison, an enthusiastic supporter, said the idea is to "instill a love of reading in elementary school students. More than any other, the newspaper industry should be in the vanguard of promoting the exact same goal."

SMART, the brainchild of former Gov. Neil Goldschmidt, is adminstered by the Oregon Children's Foundation, which he began. Besides newspapers, other businesses and industries are contributing.

The Signal's participation is typical of eight Oregon papers. Volunteers give one hour of paid time a week to read to pupils from kindergarten through second grade. Teachers supply the books, although some staffers also read their newspaper.

Any employee may participate on company time," explained Widdison. "This is more important than it may sound. It lets our employees know that we value their role as leaders in the community, and it sets a tone which says, we believe this program is important.'

Signal news editor Shelby Case, one of the paper's readers, added: "SMART provides an opportunity to give something back to the community - spending time with children and sharing my enjoyment of reading with them! …

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