Monday, September 29, 2008

Newsround makeover

Newsround had a slight makeover this morning - a new title sequence and a spinning logo during the filmed bits. Let hope the programme changes in other ways too, especially in terms of inclusiveness and diversity.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

An iconic kids' series ended yesterday. In the morning Newsround's Ore reported that for thirty years Grange Hill had dealt with lots of important issues like drug abuse and bullying, but it was ending because "CBBC bosses say they want to make sure programmes stay in touch with what's going on in your lives."

The final episode of Grange Hill was about an end of year school prom, and contained loads of heteronormativity but failed to consider how the school's lesbian and gay pupils would be accepted at the prom. It will be interesting to see how future CBBC programmes reflect the reality of today's diverse society.

Newsround Blog devotees may recall that in July I discovered that CBBC's Bullying message board didn't have any messages pertaining to homophobic bullying for a whole two year period between July 2006 and July 2008. I did however find plenty of threads which mentioned other forms of bullying. For example 'ginger' turned up in 164 threads and 'fat' was in 181 threads (blog 29 July 2008). What I failed to mention at the time was that I had also checked for a number of other causes of bullying - one of which was wearing glasses. That word was found in 116 threads, and bullying because of glasses formed the last news item on Newsround's 5pm edition on BBC One yesterday.

Friday, September 12, 2008

The latest edition of Attitude features a number of celebrities, gay and straight, who are lending their support to Stonewall's Education for All campaign. In an interview for Pink News, Matthew Todd, the editor of Attitude explains why stamping out homophobic bullying is so important. He says:

If you are being bullied for being overweight or because of your ethnicity then you can go to a teacher or your parents, who will hopefully condemn the bullying and try and give you some affirmation.

If you are gay it’s often hard to tell anyone, and at worst you will hear teachers themselves being homophobic. It enrages me.

CBBC's Bullying message board filters out all references to homophobic bullying (blog 29 July 2008), although filtering of messages with words such as 'gay' and 'lesbian' is denied by the BBC itself.

There are a few good signs however such as Newsround's inclusion of the topic on one of its teachers' PSHE website pages, which will hopefully be followed through into reports during Anti-Bullying Week in November. This year's theme for anti-bullying week is 'Being Different, Belonging Together'.

Monday, September 08, 2008

BBC accused of pro-Muslim bias

The Independent reports today that the BBC is biased towards the Muslim religion. The newspaper reported that since 2001 the BBC had made 41 faith programmes on Islam, compared with just five on Hinduism and one on Sikhism. Figures for other religions and atheism weren't revealed. "We are licence-fee payers and we want to know why this has happened," said Ashish Joshi from the Network of Sikh Organisations. The BBC denied any bias and said it was committed to representing all of Britain's faiths and communities.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

A lot of people complain about having to pay the licence fee, but in general sports fans should have few quibbles, especially with the recent Olympics coverage, and the Paralympics which begin this weekend.

Things aren't quite as good for football fans who had to rely on Reuters, AFP or newspapers like the Sun to find out that England had just won a World Cup. I didn't see anything about the England victory on the BBC or its online service, which ought to be surprising for a broadcaster which, according to its impartiality report, institutionally supports equality for women and gay people.

Apparently sport can make you brainier, Newsround reported today. Scientists in America looked at ice hockey players and fans and found that when they listened to conversations about their sport it stimulated part of their brains resulting in language skills improvement.

Stonewall FC

Monday, September 01, 2008

A year ago on 3 September 2007 CBBC had a complete makeover, but a rough idea of what it used to look like can be seen from this link to

Before the change it was easy to navigate around the site, and kids could find helpful advice from the Your Life section. There was help on bullying, healthy eating, bereavement, overcoming depression, beating racism and lots, lots more. In fact there wasn't much help that you couldn't find on the old CBBC website. So, for example, if you were in a romantic mood and wanted find out about kissing, CBBC could help with a few tips:-

  • Only kiss people that you really like and that you're sure want to kiss you too
  • If you don't feel comfortable kissing, remember you can always say no
  • Practice first on something like the back of your hand or an orange
  • Make sure you have fresh breath
  • Wait for the right moment - don't just pounce on him/her
  • Start by holding hands
  • A lot of people like closing their eyes when they are kissing
  • Remember, kissing takes practice so never tease anybody about how they kiss
    ... as you can see from the Your Life - No Problem page from February 2007, when the BBC's policy of age discrimination against older kids was already well under way. (blog 13 December 2006)

    It's the start of the school year for many kids in Britain. They used to be able to get support and advice from CBBC, but it's all been replaced with a notice:

    "The Your Life website has now closed. If you are looking for help and advice you can follow the links below. Whilst we're scratching our heads thinking about what to do next on CBBC we'd love to hear you ideas for the website too." (screenshot)

    Why did they remove the help section first, and then scratch their heads wondering what to do next? My suggestion is to put back all the advice, because younger kids no longer have the benefits of any similar help.

    At the start of term two years ago Aaron, CBBC's agony uncle, was there to answer questions about kids' worries. Now the only support available is from Newsround. Today the programme included a press pack report from Blair, with his top tips on how to survive going up to secondary school.