The iconic children’s news show’s time on TV is going to be dramatically reduced in 2020, with a new focus on the Newsround website instead.
Newsround has been a consistent, reliable source of news for many young people in the UK for almost 50 years, but the BBC have decided to heavily cut down the programme to only one bulletin in the morning. According to the BBC, Newsround’s show at 4 pm now only attracts around 35,000 young people, whereas the website has roughly 1 million users a week. Whilst it is strange to think that the younger generation doesn’t live and breathe Newsround like many of us did, the harsh reality is that most 6-12 year olds would rather watch YouTube videos than witness Helen Skelton or Lizo Mzimba deliver the latest news.
“This will allow us to make a bigger impact online, and take public service journalism to more kids, at a time when fake news and a lack of trust in the media has never been more of a worry“Paul Plunkett, Newsround Editor
The BBC is planning to reduce Newsround’s hours from 85 to 35 hours a week, allowing the broadcaster to dedicate a larger chunk of Newsround’s budget to online content. This shift from TV to online poses a massive risk to the political and social awareness of children. Whilst OFCOM, the main authority for broadcasting in the UK, supports the movement, believing that by increasing Newsround’s online presence, the platform will reach more young people. But will young people voluntarily choose to click on a hard-hitting news article as opposed to an article about Little Mix’s new Christmas Single?
Newsround is not only an accessible news programme for young people, but it also draws attention to wider societal issues that therefore educate children about the world, as seen through their ‘Specials’. From their series titled “The Wrong Trainers” which focused on the realities of child poverty (which went on to win a BAFTA in 2007), to the most recent “Living with the Wall” in 2019 which explored life around the US-Mexico border. Without these specials on TV, so many children in the UK would remain ignorant about these problems.
Newsround has also started many successful careers within the TV industry. Helen Skelton, who started out on Newsround and went on to join Blue Peter for five years, breaking records such as being the first woman to kayak 2,010 miles by herself on the Amazon river. Krishnan Guru-Murthy presented Newsround in 1991, is now a main TV news presenter on Channel 4. Lizo Mzimba, who presented Newsround for 10 years has now gone on to report for the BBC. Even Nick Robinson, who is one of the main BBC political reporters, started out his career at Newsround. Without Newsround, so many figures who are central in today’s TV landscape would perhaps not have been discovered.
Most online platforms are inundated with fake news, so without the reliable after school Newsround show, there is a big risk that young people are more likely to be misinformed because of this change. Yet, as younger generations have grown up using the internet, maybe the decrease of Newsround’s TV presence is not a disaster, as children are more comfortable and engaged navigating a website rather than sitting through a TV show. Perhaps older generations are the only people who are upset about this issue because we remember coming home from school and watching Newsround and, to be honest, no-one likes change.
Image Credit: BBC