- Associated Press - Sunday, November 23, 2014

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - The Gazette-Mail has some competition.

John Edward Leef recently created The Neighborhood Times - a weekly South Hills-based newspaper.

He publishes out of his home on Grosscup Road and hand-delivers an average of 20 papers every Saturday or Sunday, depending on his schedule.

The content, which is produced with the help of several of his friends, is comprehensive: national and local news blurbs, with puzzles, jokes and recipes in every edition.

There’s even some commentary on major issues like Ebola. “I personally don’t think that anyone around our city will get it, but you never know!,” a contributor writes in the paper’s second edition.

The latest weather forecast is based off of a John Adams Middle School science class lesson, and the comics are drawn by John Edward’s best friend Charlie.

John Edward is 9.

“One small thing turned into a big thing,” he said about the launch of his business, as he sat in front of his laptop at the family’s kitchen table. “If anything is happening, I type it up into the computer and make a newspaper.”

When John Edward claimed he was creating a newspaper, his mother, Margaret, didn’t take it too seriously. But soon he was getting an email from a local baby-sitter about buying advertisements for her business and is already considering increasing the price of the paper.

The Neighborhood Times is currently free, but could soon cost 25 cents.

“I think it’s great when you can have the opportunity to support your kids’ creativity and their interest in the world and support things they want to try,” Margaret Leef said. “It really generated a lot of interest, and I think kids just naturally want to be involved in what’s going on. They have a natural curiosity and love to be engaged and hands-on, so I think he struck that nerve with the kids around us, which is pretty exciting.”

John Edward likes to involve as many student contributors as he can, hosting news meetings at his house. He leans on 13-year-old brother Henry for design and editing advice.

Sister Lucy, 7, has a good business mind - suggesting they preview their lemonade sale this summer to bring in more customers.

Brother Ethan, 15, “doesn’t help at all,” John Edward said.

John Edward has already learned a bit about writer’s block: “We couldn’t really think of anything, and then we did,” and also about news judgment: Don’t print how many pieces of candy you collected on Halloween. It’s rude. (It was a lot.)

Even though John Edward doesn’t plan to stay in the newspaper business when he’s a grown-up (the business is not lucrative enough) he hopes to keep The Neighborhood Times going and get as many kids involved as possible.

He wants people who might think a 9-year-old boy can’t run a paper to know that they’re wrong, and also has some advice for other young entrepreneurs.

“Try it, like, a little bit at first, and then if people start liking it, you can see if they want to be part of it,” he said. “And then they will have ideas and then it will turn into a real thing, like what happened with my newspaper.”

For more information about The Neighborhood Times, contact [email protected]


Information from: The Charleston Gazette, https://www.wvgazette.com

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