Saturday, April 17, 2010

What a pity that last night's Newsround from Cardiff missed the opportunity to give kids a real say, rather than, as last week, just a token three or four comments from school kids and a ballot on the stories to be included.

The main story was about two schools in Cardiff. One of the schools - Ysgol Gymraeg Treganna - teaches lessons in Welsh, and is oversubscribed and consequentially in need of more space. The other school - Lansdowne Primary School - teaches in English and, as one girl pointed out in Ricky's report, is diverse and teaches kids from a range of cultural backgrounds. However Lansdowne is facing possible closure to make way for the other school.

Ricky was presenting live from Cardiff Bay. And with him were ten kids from each of the schools. But instead of letting kids have an election-style debate on their school situation, and maybe having some impact on the outcome, Newsround seemed more intent on showing that the children were involved in choosing, to an extent, the news stories covered. This doesn't amount to a high level on Hart's Ladder of Participation (see previous blog)

Apparently, that morning producers in London had sent Ricky a selection of eight possible stories from which the kids had to pick three, via a ballot box. The options were:

1 Party leaders TV debate
2 Building made from bottles
3 World Cup tickets
4 Badger cull in Wales
5 Volcano cloud from Iceland
6 Surfing in Scotland
7 Meteor in Wisconsin
8 Daredevil pilot in Australia

The three stories chosen by ballot were the volcano in Iceland, the daredevil pilot in Australia, and the bottle building in Taiwan.

The girl who'd earlier talked about Lansdowne school's character told Ricky she hadn't especially wanted Newsround to cover the political leaders TV debate "because if children aren't allowed to vote, then what's the point watching it." Nevertheless it became clear that, no matter how the kids had voted, Newsround was determined to somehow cover that story. Sonali managed to sneak in something about the debate towards the end of the programme.

Sonali: .... make sure you head over to the special 'General Election' section - oh that rhymes - on the Newsround website. While you're there check out how many people tuned in to watch last night's historic TV battle between the three men who want to be Prime Minister. Almost ten million people! You've got to check out that story.

So Newsround made a big thing about consulting kids, even going so far as to hold a ballot, and then overrode their decision by putting in the story anyway.

There have been some significant changes in the times Newsround is broadcast. So the Newsround team ought to ensure that this webpage is updated to show the new times. Only the most avid viewers will have been aware of the changes coming this weekend.

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