Newsletters and booklets use the written word and pictures to communicate information,
news and opinions. They rely upon the recipients being literate in the language of the
publication. Newsletters and booklets can be produced locally and circulated to a small
number of people, or printed in large numbers for much wider distribution.
Advantages of Newsletters and Booklets
The main advantage of using the written word as a
communication method, is that written information is
permanent. It is a long lasting information source
which does not rely upon human memory.
Newsletters and booklets:
Can be written by the community for the
Can include community views and opinions.
Can be circulated locally or more widely to
share ideas with the outside world.
Success can be measured by feedback from
readers, such as letters to the editor.
How to use Newsletters and Booklets
Villagers reading ‘Baobab’ newsletter
in East Kochia, Western Kenya.
Practical Action East Africa
At the simplest level a newsletter can be hand
written and duplicated for a small number of people,
such as members of a local club or group. More sophisticated publications may be produced
for circulation to larger audiences, but this type of venture will require writing and editing
skills and access to duplicating equipment or printing services.
To produce a newsletter or booklet:
Determine the purpose of the newsletter and the target audience.
Decide upon the frequency of publication.
Identify appropriate production and duplicating skills and equipment.
Calculate the production costs and the means and costs of distribution. (Where
appropriate consider electronic distribution e.g. by e-mail)
Consider the language to be used and the newsletter name.
Decide on design, layout and use of pictures and drawings. If the audience has low
literacy levels use numerous pictures, illustrations and cartoons.
Ensure that the content is relevant and engaging for the target audience. Remember
that collecting material content can be difficult and time consuming.
Encourage readers to contribute opinions and material for future issues.
Consider offering advertising space as a means of funding the newsletter.
Constraints of Newsletters and Booklets
The written word is unfamiliar to people with an oral tradition of communication.
Non-literate people, or those reading a different language are unable to read or
contribute to newsletters.
Newsletters and booklets can be costly and time consuming to produce and
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Newsletters and Booklets
Real Life Story
Local Newsletter for Local Residents
In September 2001 the ‘Kitale’ newsletter was first published. This was a new newsletter
produced specifically for the residents of Kitale town in Western Kenya. The editor, Mr Otieno
Mboya explained the objectives of the newsletter in his first editorial, ‘ To keep residents of
Kitale informed about development activities in Kitale and the rest of the country and to
provide a forum for organisations and individuals to share experiences, exchange views and
up-date the community on their activities’.
Kitale is published 3 times a year, and has sections
which include local news, opinions from community
members and information on a variety of development
topics. The newsletter remains very popular amongst
residents, but the publishers, Kitale Municipal Council,
experience ongoing challenges. The financing of the
newsletter remains difficult: efforts to attract
advertisers have not proved very successful and a small
price to readers has to be charged. Members of the
editorial board have to offer their time voluntarily.
Collecting material for each issue of the newsletter is
also a challenge, although readers are always
encouraged to contribute, it can be difficult to get nonliterate members of the town to contribute.
Real life story courtesy of Practical Action East Africa
March 2002 issue of ‘Kitale’
Storytelling Practical Action Technical Brief
Community/Street drama Practical Action Technical Brief
Exposure Visits Practical Action Technical Brief
Public Gatherings Practical Action Technical Brief
Information, Communication, Learning selection of Practical Action Technical Briefs
Using Existing Mass Media Practical Action Technical Brief
Podcasting: Recording and Using Local Voices for Knowledge Sharing Practical Action Brief
The Schumacher Centre
Rugby, Warwickshire, CV23 9QZ
Tel: +44 (0)1926 634400
Fax: +44 (0)1926 634401
This document is based on the Micro Media Card Pack: A Tool Kit for Community
Development Workers produced by Practical Action in October 2003. Reproduced
as a Technical Brief in October 2007.
Practical Action is a development charity with a difference. We know the simplest ideas can have the
most profound, life-changing effect on poor people across the world. For over 40 years, we have been
working closely with some of the world’s poorest people - using simple technology to fight poverty and
transform their lives for the better. We currently work in 15 countries in Africa, South Asia and Latin