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Cultures of production: The making of children's news
chapterposted on 25.08.2015, 08:37 by J. Matthews
[From Introduction] Jon Snow, a respected UK journalist and news presenter, has argued that children ‘have a watershed to protect them but no mechanism to inform them’ (Snow 1994). Observing that there is a disproportionate amount of news and current affairs programmes for adults in comparison to children, he concludes that broadcasters are failing to inform this important constituency of society. This general argument usefully focuses attention on the quantity of news information available for children but in doing so fails to discuss the child audience’s regular diet of news through specialised children's news programmes on both terrestrial and non-terrestrial television channels – whether BBC1, Channel 4 or Nickelodeon. Likewise, the media communication research literature has little to say about the nature and content of these special children’s news programmes. Hence, this chapter will report on an in-depth study into one of the most popular, and certainly the longest running, of children’s news programmes – BBC1’s Newsround. (1) It deliberately focuses on the programme’s construction of the children’s environmental agenda as a way of both exploring and explaining how the ‘professional visualisation’ (Cottle 1993a) of this children’s news form shapes the nature of its output. These insights are important not just because they address the under-researched form of children’s news but also because they provide a deeper understanding of how differentiated news forms condition and constrain television news in different ways – a finding that has theoretical relevance for our understanding of how news production shapes and conditions democratic representation and processes of citizenship.