February 9, 2017

How to Talk to Your Kids about the News



How does a busy day look for you?
You come in, it’s a blank page and our job is to fill it. One of our reporters goes out to a school, a youth group, maybe a launch of something that involves children and that’s our way of directly connecting with our audience. It’s great fun and it’s genuinely a privilege.
How do you decide what kind of stories you’re going to cover?
Those ones are the easy ones because when you’re meeting children, those are the ones you would have thought about and planned. The more difficult ones are when the big story breaks, the hard news because that’s when you have to give really long and careful thought as to whether we’ll cover a story in the first place. Our loyalty and our duty is to our young audience and not every story will be interesting to them, relevant or age appropriate. That said we don’t shy away from hard news, we do all the hard news but we think very carefully about every single picture we use, every single word we use and part of our job is to inform but also to reassure. There’s always some good you can find in a story. If it’s the migrant or refugee story’s it’s about people saving lives, braving the seas to help rescue people.
How do you give hard news to children?
Children are seeing and hearing and reading about news everywhere. When I was a child it was more controlled, your parents would decide if you watched the news or if you read a newspaper. Now news is everywhere so we feel it’s more important than ever to give the news that is important, the big stories, in a way that is age appropriate, interesting, relevant and factual. Like for instance with Donald Trump we wouldn’t give the details of the comments he made about women we would just refer to ‘the disrespectful comments he made about women’ and that actually is enough for a young audience.
With Brexit one of the first things we did was explain what Brexit is, it’s jargon so you can’t and shouldn’t assume that everyone knows everything about everything because none of us do. So the first thing we said was ‘British Exit’.
Should we let our children watch the evening news?
I know from our viewers that they’re very clued in and care about the world around them. I think hiding news from them probably isn’t the wisest thing to do but certainly parental control is important and talking to your children, always encourage them to talk but if they don’t want to talk that’s also ok.

Avril Hoare is the editor of news2day on RTÉ2.

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