Sunday, February 24, 2008

Editorial decisions and impartiality - Part 3

In December 2005 Newsround didn't report on the Schools Out 'Stamp out homophobia in schools' petition. Newsround has never reported anti-homophobia sports initiatives, unlike racism issues which are properly covered. The one time when Newsround did report on a news item which should have been of particular significance to LGBT kids, they redacted all mention of LGBT issues (see blog dated 30 August 2006). The BBC's explanation for that editorial judgment was:

The story was covered very briefly (about 10 seconds duration) and we did not feel the sexual / homophobic angle of the story was the most relevant for our target audience (primary school children). This is not to deny that this was a legitimate part of the story - but simply that given the other news stories that we wished to cover on that day, it did not merit inclusion in this brief report.

That feeble excuse doesn't account for the lack of proper website coverage about ChildLine's Casenote: Calls to ChildLine about sexual orientation, homophobia and homophobic bullying or why, for example, the bridge demolished in the United States was worthy of more airtime and was more relevant than a news item about anti-gay prejudice in UK primary and secondary schools.

It's now nearing the end of LGBT History Month and, as expected, Newsround has shown no real signs of budging in its non-inclusive attitude (also see blog 5 February 2008).

When Anne Gilchrist announced the axing of Grange Hill on 6 February 2008 she said The lives of children have changed a great deal since Grange Hill began and we owe it to our audience to reflect this. She is right - children's lives have changed a great deal since Grange Hill began. For instance children in this century are entitled to respect, whatever their sexual orientation. They shouldn't feel ashamed, or be bullied or discriminated against, for being different. Under Ms Gilchrist's Controllership CBBC has failed to reflect this societal sea change, and instead has maintained a discriminatory policy, virtually invisibilising LGBT identity on children's programmes and CBBC message boards.

In relation to the axing of Grange Hill itself, I am still awaiting confirmation that Ms Gilchrist's decision to axe the programme was supported by CBBC's audience, as she has claimed.

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