Children and the news: rethinking citizenship in the twenty-ﬁrst century
It has become something of a truism that children, no matter where they live in the world, regard the news as “boring”, refusing to read newspapers, tune into television or radio news, or search out news on the internet.1 One consequence of this view is that limited research has been undertaken examining children’s relationship to the news and its role in facilitating the development of their informed and active citizenship. Clearly, the term “boring” is in urgent need of unpacking as it is ideologically loaded with assumptions about children’s civic apathy, which runs the risk of becoming a self-fulﬁlling prophecy. If adult news is “boring”, it is because it represents a world of adults doing largely incomprehensible things, where children’s interests and opinions are rarely regarded as noteworthy (unless they are doing something bad) or valuable (extraordinarily good) and are thus absent. When news is produced with children’s civic development in mind, it has the potential to enable them as citizens and empower them to develop an ongoing interest in the world (Carter and Messenger Davies, 2005). As Lemish (2007a) suggests, if children are citizens (“being”) rather than citizens in the
making (“becoming”) then they “need access to the mediated public domain of television news – both as an audience whose needs and interests are taken into consideration as well as participants whose opinions and concerns are being voiced” (2007a, pp. 136-37). This chapter assesses the contributions of research investigating the role of news, both adults’ and children’s, in facilitating or hindering children’s development and participation as citizens.