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9-Year-Old Boy Starts His Own Newspaper To Help Local Food Banks

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

Seeing the need at Colorado food banks, journalist Cooper Nelson got to work. He started his own physical newsletter, the Lakes Gazette, charging $5 a month for subscriptions. And he raised roughly $4,000 so far. And we should mention that Cooper, our colleague, is 9 years old. And he joins us from his home in Loveland, Colo., along with his parents, Matt and Erin.

Welcome to the program.

COOPER NELSON: Hi.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Hi. We should make it clear that you guaranteed a hundred percent of the money that you get goes to food banks. And I'm wondering, how did you first hear about food banks?

COOPER: I first heard about it on 9News on one of their stories.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: And so what made you think that this would be a good thing to try and help out?

COOPER: I thought it was a good thing to help out because people didn't have a lot of money right now. They lost their jobs during coronavirus, so they didn't have enough money to afford food. So I decided to make money for the food bank so they could go up to a food bank and get some food.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: And so what do you like best about being a journalist?

COOPER: I like doing the research, and I like to see the final thing that comes out.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: I mean, I looked at your absolutely wonderful newsletter, and there's so much cool stuff. I mean, there's, like, recipes. And you have puzzles. And there's updates about, you know, how things are going. How do you decide what goes in the newsletter?

COOPER: I decided what goes in the newsletter is - since it was a kid-friendly newsletter, I decided to put a maze, a recipe they can do and, like, a kid-friendly article.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: So my daughter wants to start her own news program, but it's a lot of work. I mean, you clearly got cool parents that thought, like, this would be a good idea. So tell me about the publication. You guys get together, and you work on it every night. How does it work?

COOPER: Well, it gets delivered. We have, like, 20 subscribers in our neighborhood. So I go out every Tuesday or Wednesday and deliver them.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Cool. And so what are your sort of people in your community saying about your newsletter?

COOPER: They're saying good job. Like, they're amazed, impressed and, like, excited that they can have a newspaper.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: And what do you feel about what you've done?

COOPER: I feel proud. And I feel amazed that I've been going for a year now - or half a year.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Half a year - that's amazing. Why do you think people have wanted to help with this and contribute?

COOPER: Well, I think because, like, they wanted to help me and the food bank. And I think that the way I did my newspaper - I think they like it.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Awesome. Since you've been getting a lot of attention, I would like to know what advice you have to other young budding journalists out there who are your age about starting a newsletter.

COOPER: I say that - don't give up, try your hardest and make it fun.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That is the key to anything in good journalism. You've got to make it fun 'cause if not, people just won't pay attention.

MATT NELSON: Hey, I just - I'm Dad.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Hi, dad.

NELSON: Thank you so much. And I just wanted to ask - if it's OK, Cooper had a question for you.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Absolutely. I would love to take a question from Cooper.

COOPER: What advice could you give to me for, like, a beginner reporter to, like a - one that's been doing it for, like, 20 years?

GARCIA-NAVARRO: (Laughter) Well, the advice I'd give to you is the advice that you already know, which is you're making it fun, but not only for other people but for yourself. And you're doing something that you really enjoy with people that you like, and that is the most important thing. So I think you're already doing all the best stuff.

COOPER: Yeah.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: (Laughter) Cooper Nelson, who is a journalist and the founder of the Lakes Gazette, thank you very much.

COOPER: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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