Parents' Guide to

The Westport Independent

By Neilie Johnson, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 12+

News simulator shows how the media can shape reality.

The Westport Independent Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this app.

Community Reviews

age 13+

Based on 1 parent review

age 13+

Lots of smoking present in game

The common sense media rating does not mention the heavy use of tobacco during game play. Every time you start the app you are presented with a large image of an ash tray with lots of used up cigarette buds. The are also multiple instances of your in game character smoking in a large dark room with other people. There is also some language which includes sh-t and f--k. I would rate this game for teens due to the tobacco use.

This title has:

Easy to play/use
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say: (1 ):
Kids say: Not yet rated

This simple simulator focuses on telling a good story and letting kids experience how news outlets hold the power of perception in their pens. The Westport Independent puts you in charge of making complicated, life-and-death decisions. It doesn't seem that way at first; you're just the editor of a local newspaper tasked with raising your papers' profile and selling as many papers as you can. The arrival of a certain "Public Culture" bill, though, raises the idea of "appropriate" content, as well as the stakes of publication. From then on, every decision you make has the potential to, at least, alienate your employees (who all have their own political beliefs) and, at most, bring government agents to your door. If you want to play it safe, you can fixate on fluff -- celebrity gossip and the like -- but if you want to report the big stories, you'll have to take sides. That means acting as a government mouthpiece, spinning stories to make certain groups seem beneficial and even heroic, or helping the populace by telling the unvarnished truth. It's not easy: The Westport Independent makes clear the risk you take reporting on things like industrial safety, joblessness, and police brutality. And what's great about it is that it makes you responsible for what the public knows and expertly demonstrates how complicated (and dangerous) it is to do the right thing. It also introduces the idea of distribution, and how money can affect how media outlets convey the news. Parents can help kids connect the dots between the newspaper in the game and the current, varied forms of news that exist today, including clickbait and misinformation. In our media-soaked political climate, The Westport Independent is a great tool for teaching kids how important it is to have a free press, as well as how media spin alters our perception of reality.

App Details

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