Thursday, September 09, 2010

Apparently today is the 25th anniversary of Children's BBC, or CBBC as it's now known.

Yesterday Single Parent Dad blogged that Newsround is worse these days than it was years ago, when he was a kid and it was presented by John Craven.

Here is how the programme looked in 1982 (on 2nd November) -

Newsround today does seem to have shorter stories, many of which are based around sports and showbiz personalities. Single Parent Dad was concerned, amongst other things, with a Newsround report about the tittle-tattle surrounding Wayne Rooney playing for England. That is not news, and certainly not a priority for children to hear about, said SPD.

Now if Newsround had gone into details about Wayne's extramarital sexual encounters, I would be inclined to agree that the story shouldn't have been mentioned. But look at what Newsround actually reported on Monday 6 September 2010 at 8.30am -

Ricky: .. Wayne Rooney is expected to be with them [the England team] despite newspaper reports about his private life over the weekend. ...

and the next day, Tuesday 7 September 2010 at 5pm -

Sonali: .. Wayne Rooney's told Fabio Capello he can handle tonight's Euro 2012 qualifier against Switzerland. There were worries he wouldn't be up for the match after those claims that he's been cheating on his wife, Coleen. ..

So, Newsround's coverage referred to claims that Rooney 'cheated' on his wife. What could a 5-year-old understand that to mean? Well, it means different things to kids as they get older. At school 'cheating' often means having a steady boyfriend or girlfriend, but secretly dating someone else.

Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard in Brief Encounter
Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard in Brief Encounter (1945)

Newsround Blog has often queried Newsround's editorial judgement, but sometimes people's private lives are important, and can have significant impact on their public lives. We saw that happen with former England captain John Terry earlier in the year. We saw it again with David Laws and, more recently, with William Hague. And there will be countless more examples in the future. As with Newsround's attempt to censor the John Terry story, editors can end up with egg on their face.

Single Parent Dad says that there used to be a lot of information about animals, and their plights around the globe. News of struggles in countries far away as well as uplifting news from the globe and, indeed, our own isles. As an avid viewer I can confirm that Newsround is still quite good on those issues, but perhaps the programme has come to rely just a bit too much on celebrity stories and football, to the detriment of other news relevant to children and young people.

Newsround wants to know what Ricky should investigate.

My suggestion is that Ricky could try to find out why most CBBC message boards were closed down at the end of 2008, and why the BBC said that it was an improvement to the website. However, I bet he won't investigate that, or anything else which might embarrass the BBC.

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