Saturday, November 17, 2007

Newsround's ethos

At the start of my blog dated 6 November 2007 I quoted a Newsround report about two red pandas kissing. And I went on to say that it was nice to see Newsround cover the story without the usual heteronormative slant. Newsround, it seemed, was becoming more diverse-friendly.

But it looks like there is still quite a way to go.

At the Order of the Phoenix DVD press launch, Newsround's Lizo asked about Ron's new girlfriend, Lavender, in the forthcoming sixth HP film. For some reason Newsround didn't cover the cast reactions to JK Rowling's comment about Dumbledore's sexuality.

In a Newsround exclusive on Tuesday, the programme revealed that Lavender would be played by Jessie Cave -

Ellie: Meet the girl who'll spend most of the next Potter film snogging Rupert Grint....

And on Newsround's website: Jessie, 20, must be the envy of lots of girls. In playing Lavender, she gets to kiss Ron Weasley (played by Rupert Grint) a LOT!

I'm told that Newsround would have no qualms about covering an LGBT-related story on TV provided the item fitted with the programme's ethos. I am still trying to work out the nature of Newsround's ethos, apart from its evident heteronormativity.

Newsround press pack reports have included kids who get picked on or bullied:
Don't call me names because I wear glasses - Sophie doesn't think it's right that you get called names if you wear glasses.

I'm bullied because of braces - Press Packer Simone has braces on her teeth. And she has been getting a hard time about it from other kids.

I am happy with the way I look - Some kids used to call Amy names because she was bigger than them. It made her feel really sad inside.

I'm proud of being ginger! - Catherine thinks it's wrong when other children call her mean names just because she's a redhead.

But would Newsround be equally OK with a Press Packer saying:

I'm bullied for being gay

In today's prejudiced society, not helped by the BBC's non-inclusiveness, a press packer intending to do a report like that would need to weigh up the potential consequences of disclosing their affections on TV. Yet the BBC has no qualms whatsoever about encouraging young kids to talk about their straight affections or relationships on CBBC programmes (blog 12 November 2007).

Why shouldn't LGBT kids be treated fairly? After all, the BBC says it must be inclusive.

Newsround should take special care to consider LGBT diversity in all editorial decisions (blogs 11 & 13 February 2006). They should report news about combatting homophobia and homophobic bullying in schools, for example the ChildLine Casenotes last year (blog 30 August 2006). I would like to think this approach would be entirely in accord with Newsround's ethos.

Next week is Anti-bullying week (19-23 November) - an opportunity to find out whether the BBC is serious about its diversity policy.

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