Saturday, August 17, 2013

The top story on Newsround yesterday morning was about pronouncements by UKIP treasurer, Stuart Wheeler, to the effect that men are cleverer than women. A couple of people took to social networking site Twitter suggesting the programme was biased against UKIP. One wrote "Stuart Wheeler's '@UKIP member' remarks on Women have been picked up by CBBC Newsround - Child Propaganda? Think so" and a link to the Newsround web report.

Now, had that been the only time Newsround mentioned UKIP the objectors might have a point. But the truth is that, like the BBC in general, UKIP and their leader Nigel Farage enjoyed a disproportionate amount of uncritical air time at the end of last year and the first months of this year. The picture on this Newsround webpage could hardly be seen as attempt to dissuade kids from supporting UKIP; in fact taking into account the purple Newsround-UKIP colour coordination, you might even conclude that the story was a subliminal message of endorsement.

Judging from feedback to Newsround web pages, and assuming the feedback is representative of Newsround's audience, it seems that the majority of the programme's audience are female. It was hardly unreasonable to let kids know that UKIP isn't the party to back if you're in favour of gender equality.

Newsround was right to cover the UKIP sexism row, though it's disappointing they weren't as happy to report any of the controversy surrounding LGBT equality at the IAAF World Athletics Championships, especially bearing in mind that pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva is an IOC Youth Olympics ambassador.

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