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Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How do kids find out about the Free Press and who makes the selection?

A: The Free Press does not advertise for students. We don’t need to. Referrals and inquires come from students, parents, and teachers. We cannot, however, accept all interested students and there is an extensive waiting list. Students are selected based on job applications and subsequent interviews. We look for students who will benefit academically from participating in this kind of rigorous writing based program.  Of course, we look for hard workers who will help us produce interesting publications.

Q: What hours is the Free Press newsroom open?

A: The Free Press newsroom is open on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4:00-9:30 p.m. and on Saturdays from 9:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. We are, open at other times during publications deadlines or for special events like public forums or discussions.

Q: How often and where is the Free Press published?

A new issue is published approximately every six weeks. Hardcopy editions of the Free Press are printed at Madison Newspaper, Inc. New articles, editorials, and columns are posted weekly to our online version.

Q: What is the circulation and where is it distributed?

A: Hardcopy circulation of the Simpson Street Free Press newspaper is approximately 21,000. About 8,000 copies go to schools in southern Wisconsin – elementary, middle and high schools. Another 3,000 copies go to community centers, 2,000 to public libraries, and the balance is distributed at drop sites throughout Dane County. These include stores, restaurants, medical clinics and other public businesses.

Q: How is the Free Press used in schools?

A: The Simpson Street Free Press staff provides curriculum guides to compliment every new hardcopy issue. This facilitates the use of our youth written publications in area schools. A number of local classroom teachers use our paper to supplement units to help their students analyze writing or to introduce interesting topics in science, geography, history or the arts. Letters and e-mails from students to Free Press Writers demonstrate that many local students enjoy what they read in the Free Press and are impressed by the work of our writers. We aim to spark curiosity and encourage further exploring. The Free Press pursues a dual mission. We teach research and writing and our students serve as positive role models at their schools and in their neighborhoods.

Q: How are article topics selected and assigned?

A: Adult staff and student editors pick the topics based on our philosophy of teaching “across the curriculum”. Our publications focus on core curriculum subjects such as History, Geography, Science, and the Arts. Our newspaper also features news and information in several subject areas of particular relevance to young people. These include financial literacy, health and technology. We assign articles within a series of writing-based lesson plans developed by the Free Press teaching staff.

Q: What’s the typical process a student’s work goes through from the time an article is assigned until it is accepted for publication?

A: We believe that the most learning happens during the revision process. Our students revise and edit their work many times prior to publication. The teaching staff emphasis proper planning and outlining, revision at the sentence and paragraph level, and both student-directed and teacher-directed revision.

Q: Are Free Press Writers paid?

A: The students are paid a monthly stipend only if their attendance is perfect. They are also paid an additional amount for each article that is ultimately printed. This means our writers are rewarded for articles that have been successfully revised, accepted by the editors, and then published.