Thursday, February 28, 2013

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, God's Rottweiler, Pope Benedict XVI, Pope Emeritus - whatever you choose to call him, he is not a very humane human being. But little of his nasty side has been reported by Newsround nor, in fact, by the media in general. Thankfully we have the Internet, and so don't have to rely on the BBC and other mainstream media to get a balanced assessment of the man.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

After a fortnight of extolling Pope Benedict XVI and everything he stands for, there was a slight hiccup yesterday when Cardinal Keith O'Brien resigned and Newsround was finally forced to admit that all is not well within the Roman Catholic Church.

It all began on Monday 11th February 2013 when Benedict XVI announced his intention to resign. Newsround wasted no time in putting together a series of reports and webpages praising the life and work of the Pope, and ignoring the fact that Ratzinger is probably loved and loathed in equal measure. The Catholic religion, after all, has done little to diminish prejudice and discrimination against certain groups, especially LGBT people. The Pope may even have made things worse. But where is the objectivity in, say, this webpage? Or in this TV report?

Ricky Boleto - Newsround 11th February 2013

As so often, Newsround has been feeding kids half-truths. And that brings me back to my blog on 12th February: Telling the truth. I'm still waiting to hear back from Professor Jean Seaton but, to be honest, I'm not too hopeful.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Newsround is wont to report religion-related news, particularly on its Sunday TV bulletins. Last Sunday they led with a fairly insignificant item about one of the Pope's final appearances at a Mass in the Vatican. Ricky told viewers that thousands of people were expected to turn up later that day to receive his blessing.

Newsround on Sunday 17th February 2013 ~ 9.25am

That was last Sunday.

This Sunday the main BBC TV news bulletins have led, for much of the day, with allegations made against a very senior Roman Catholic cleric, who by the way is known for his outspoken, offensive and frankly bigoted views about marriage equality. Newsround has not reported that story and, if the Savile abuse case is anything to go by, Newsround will keep CBBC's audience in the dark.

Newsround on Sunday 24th February 2013 ~ 1.55pm

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Romance was the main theme of the Valentine's Day special: 12 Again. But love and romance feature in many BBC children's programmes, and the latest CBBC My Life documentary is no exception.

My Life: Breaking Free followed a group of three children with Down syndrome to see whether they could achieve their aims and ambitions. The programme was introduced and narrated by Ruben who was aiming to swim fast enough to participate in London 2012.

Harley had been cruelly bullied at school, denting his confidence in dealing with other people. He left that school and was now learning to surf, and starting to trust people again. Nicole was taking part in a week-long drama club. If it went well Nicole hoped to be allowed to go on an unchaperoned date with her boyfriend James, who also has Down's.

A couple of extracts from the programme -

Ruben: I'm hanging out with my best friend, Hannah, before my big [swimming] race tomorrow.

Hannah: The reason why he's my friend is because, ever since I moved to this school, he's been sticking up for me. And I was, like, 'maybe we could be friends.'

Ruben: She's funny. And sometimes a bit ... cute.

Hannah: Hey! I've got a boyfriend, you know!

Narrator: After drama school Nicole takes some time out for boyfriend, James. James is 12 and they have known each other since they were 2.

Nicole: I think he's nice and handsome. Handsome and smart.

James: Nice. ... Nicole is brilliant, and a nice girl. Because she is really nice we are going to have a wedding. (They dance together)

All three kids eventually achieved their goals: Ruben got a medal and made it into the Down syndrome GB squad. Harley won first place trophy for his surfing. And Nicole was a success in her drama club. She went on her date with James.

James & Nicole on their date

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Mark Thompson said last year that the BBC has a duty to take lesbian, gay and bisexual people as seriously as any other part of its audience. He said their experiences and perspectives must be portrayed with as much conviction and fairness as they would portray anyone else.

Perhaps Mr Thompson could be taken more seriously had he not spent almost his entire term in office as BBC Director-General trying to eradicate LGBT portrayal from children's TV. Amongst the first of his decisions were the setting up of a "diversity board" chaired by himself, and the approval of new guidelines which omitted wording about treating lesbian, gay and bisexual people fairly.

So, by the time the first civil partnerships took place in December 2005 not a single word was reported about them on CBBC Newsround. In fact that failure was the final straw which, a few days later, led to the establishment of Newsround Blog.

Regrettably the discriminatory culture still lingers on, as is evident from a careful reading of the BBC LGB Review Update (see blog on 2 January 2013) The quoted section on Page 9 of the Review Update mischaracterizes the original findings of the 2010 Review, and also indicates that BBC Children's management have no intention of treating LGB people with equal respect

An example of this different attitude can be seen in a 12 Again Valentine's Day Special, broadcast earlier today.
12 Again - CBBC's Valentine's Day Special

Although CBBC has finally got round to acknowledging the existence of civil partnerships, there is a clear distinction in the way straight and gay affections are treated. The programme interviews a number of well-known stars, all of whom either reminisce about opposite sex affections, or don't make the object of their affection known.

In this clip it seems that Craig Revel Horwood has just been asked if he had a crush on any of the girls at his school. And in this clip, narrator Iain Stirling says that Antony Cotton's idea about love is wrong on so many levels.

Happy LGBT History Month & Valentine's Day

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Telling the truth

Most people will probably recall that the BBC was in a great deal of trouble last year. Newsround did a report about some of the problems which led to the resignation of George Entwistle. And the report included a clip of Professor Jean Seaton talking about the role of the Corporation and its journalists. Professor Seaton is Director of The Orwell Prize, and is the BBC's historian.

Professor Seaton said "Telling the truth is very hard, strenuous work. And that's what we have the BBC to do. And on this one occasion it's failed. It can make it better, it can remedy that, but it's undoubtedly failed. (cut) But it's a serious thing because it breached its relationship with you, its audience."

Professor Jean Seaton talks to Newsround viewers - 12th November 2012

So what is meant by "the truth" and what did Professor Seaton mean when she said that telling the truth is "very hard strenuous work?"

Look at this Newsround report about the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI. Is the report fair? Or are we, instead, seeing a partial view? Are we seeing the truth about the Pope?

I will ask Professor Seaton for her opinion.

Newsround's guide to the Pope
What's been the reaction to the Pope's resignation?

To be continued ...

Saturday, February 09, 2013

Frank Matthews, from The Dumping Ground has a new girlfriend. Last year he was dating Lizanne, but now he's fallen for Jade. And this time he gets to kiss her as well.

Newsround Blog's investigation of that cancelled interview is well underway. Watch this space. But for now, here's a short clip from last night's CBBC presentation :-

Chris and Hacker presenting on CBBC yesterday evening

Thursday, February 07, 2013

I've said it before, and I'll say it again - Newsround should bring back "Ricky Investigates" to look at things that seem unfair.

Why was a gay couple, Dan and Martin, who were due to be interviewed on Newsround yesterday morning, told at short notice that they would not be able to take part in the programme? They were supposed to talk to Ore about what the marriage equality vote in House of Commons would mean to them.

Ricky should speak to the programme makers, and to the couple themselves, and then let us know why the interview was cancelled.

In the meantime Newsround Blog will do its best to uncover the truth.

Monday, February 04, 2013

Both the News at Six and the News at Ten on BBC One yesterday began with an item about a letter warning David Cameron against proceeding with marriage equality legislation. This is how it was reported at 10pm -

Mishal Husain: David Cameron is warned that his plans to legalise gay marriage will cost votes at the next election. More than twenty Conservative associations urge a delay to the plans. A Parliamentary vote is scheduled this week.

(other headlines)

Mishal Husain: Good evening. David Cameron has been warned by senior grassroots Conservatives that his plans to legalise same-sex marriage will do significant damage to the Party at the ballot box. Two days before MPs vote on the proposals a letter signed by 25 past and present chairmen of local Conservative associations has urged the Prime Minister to delay the decision. Our Political Correspondent, Carole Walker, has the details.

Carole Walker: They came from the shires on a Sunday afternoon to deliver their protest to Downing Street. These are some of the 25 senior Conservatives who are warning David Cameron that a significant number in his Party will not support what they see as an attempt to redefine marriage.

Geoffrey Vero: It's not a matter of being anti-gay. It's a matter of really considering what is the institution of marriage all about. And for many people - and certainly older Conservatives, as well as younger Conservatives - marriage has been a matter between a man and a woman bringing up - if they are lucky enough - having, and bringing up children.

Carole Walker: Their letter says there's no mandate for the bill. It's been rushed through without proper consultation. And it says resignations from the Party are beginning to multiply and we fear that, if enacted, this bill will lead to significant damage to the Conservative Party in the run-up to the 2015 election.

Carole Walker: Downing Street say there's no question of the Prime Minister backing down. It is a free vote and he accepts that many of his MPs - even some cabinet ministers - will not support the move. But he believes it's time to give gay people the same right as everyone else: to get married.

William Hague: Is it right in principle? And I think it is. Marriage is an institution which is a very positive institution in our society. We shouldn't deny it to people on a discriminatory basis. Is there sufficient public consent for it to be a law that enjoys support? Yes there is.

Carole Walker: Many Tories want the Prime Minister to do more to support traditional marriages. And resentment has been fuelled by the decision not to introduce tax breaks for married couples in the coming Budget. The bill to allow gay couples to marry is likely to get the go-ahead on Tuesday, given the backing of most Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs. But it could face a difficult passage through Parliament which will put further strains on the fractious relationship between the Prime Minister and his party. Carole Walker, BBC News, Westminster.

Anyone relying on BBC One as their sole source of news would be unaware that some sections of the Conservative Party are strongly supportive of marriage equality.

Friday, February 01, 2013

Not long now till the start of the Kidscreen Summit in New York. I imagine that some delegates will be busy with their packing even as this blog goes live. Though exactly why it's necessary for virtually the whole of BBC Children's - well all the top brass at any rate - to attend the Summit is something of a mystery. Maybe they like the plush surroundings of the New York Hilton? Or perhaps they're all desperately trying to glean a few clues on how to improve British children's TV? Who knows. But whatever the reason, I think this is going to cost TV licence-fee-payers quite a lot of money. Especially if the Big Cheese spends anything like the £409.27p he spent on a taxi fare in Canada a few years ago.

If these regular trips abroad aren't curbed I might have to ask the BBC if they've ever carried out a Cost-Benefit analysis.

Off to the USA. Mission: To create unforgettable content
to inspire all children across the UK

Rather than bother with children's media conferences around the world, why can't bosses simply stay HERE and have a meeting about ways to make children's TV relevant AND inclusive. It's not exactly rocket science, after all.

Happy LGBT History Month