Sunday, April 15, 2012

Newsround recently celebrated its 40th anniversary. Newsround has been criticised for dumbing down the news with too many showbiz stories and other trivia. This was an issue considered in the latest edition of Newswatch on the BBC News channel.

Raymond Snoddy: ... Now it [Newsround] has several editions a day on TV, including Specials on subjects such as autism and domestic violence, and a significant online presence. Some, though, take issue with the programme's agenda: (email) I am a Year 7 Tutor in a secondary school and have found Newsround very celebrity-heavy and packed with irrelevant news, such as the story of a cat wandering away from home, yet it lacks reports about politics and other relevant news. Sometimes a major event will not even be mentioned. As a result, most sixth formers do not know who David Cameron is. Children would gain a lot from a daily news programme that is actually aimed at informing, rather than encouraging them to follow reality TV shows.

A 14-year-old who had enjoyed Newsround over the years nevertheless felt that the 12-16 age range is not being properly catered for by the BBC. Incidentally, children's drama has been criticised on the same grounds. Projects such as BBC Switch have come and gone, but there has been no overall improvement in teen services.

A 12-year-old from Edinburgh said Newsround is good, but doesn't give an in-depth view of the news that 12-16 year-old people expect. He wanted more "real current news." He felt that about half his school are satisfied with Newsround as it is at present, but the other half were interested to know more about economics, politics and current affairs. He suggested a new programme in addition to the current Newsround could meet that need.

The person in charge of BBC children's services, Joe Godwin, was invited on Newswatch to answer these criticisms.

The BBC has a duty to represent all groups in society - no group can be underserved. We've seen how much time Newsround has been devoting to news items about religion. But what about when religious bigots attack a section of society? Shouldn't kids understand that hate isn't just something promoted by racists?

On Thursday Pink News revealed that two 'Christian' groups intended to run a homophobic campaign on London buses. Within hours of this news coming to light, the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, intervened to stop the advertisement: "London is one of the most tolerant cities in the world and intolerant of intolerance. It is clearly offensive to suggest that being gay is an illness that someone recovers from and I am not prepared to have that suggestion driven around London on our buses."

The 'Christian' groups behind the advert want to persuade people that lesbian and gay people can become straight. This false hope sometimes causes young people a great deal of distress, leading to depression and even attempts at suicide.

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