In China, there have been plenty of TV news programmes, local, national and international, for adults, but seldom news programme for kids and teenagers. And almost all these children news programmes have the same pattern.
Take the only national kid news programme, Xin Wen Dai Dai Ku, for instance. The programme is presented by both young adults and teenagers; topics are led and switched through conversations. The content, though covers both national and international stories, is focused on more soft news and many of them are written by teenagers.
The strength of this pattern is obvious; the language is simple and easy to understand. The child presenters and journalists give a close feeling to audiences. However, the news elements in the programme have been weakened and the age of target audiences tend to be quite young, for those among 8-13.
“Teen News” is designed for the youth between 13 and 19. According to Jean Piaget (1896-1980)’s theory of children’s cognitive stages, teenagers of these ages are in the final stage: the formal operational stage. They have developed abstract thoughts and are able to conserve and think logically in their mind. They have the knowledge to understand complicated issues. Therefore, news content can be quite wide, covering politics, environment, technology and social issues, whether national or international.
David T.Z Mindich (Kolodzy, 2006) has found that children and teens find news, particular political and government news, less engaging and more passive. Most of news programmes for adults focus on the fundamental function of news, to deliver information. They condensed with a large amount of stories and broadcasted in a serious and ‘cold’ way and more importantly, news angles are considered from adults’ stances.
People tend to lose interest if they can’t understand what they are reading or watching. When reporting news for teenagers, stories need to be considered from their angles, what they expect to know and why would they be interested in. News should be contextualized and essential backgrounds need to be given. Avoiding using jargons but explain them. Give direct details to audiences through images and sounds. To some extent, what really matters is how news stories are told rather than what they are.
As a TV news programme for teenagers, “Teen News” will be very interactive. People tend to pay more attention when they are involved. Teenagers normally have strong personal characters. They have their own views and they have the desire to say. To understand their thoughts and to closely connect the programme with them, we can invite them to discuss, debate and express their opinions and ideas, not only through vox pops, but in a form of live discussions, giving them an equal stance with adults to deeply explore issues closely related to them, such as the change of education system and food safety issue, which are both hot topics in China now.
Another glaring disadvantage of the existing new programme for children in China is that they don’t fully use the convergent environment and multi-media platforms. Although the programme can be watched online, it just posts the exact videos broadcasted on TV. They seldom use social networks to reach audiences.
A Kaiser Foundation survey found that children and teens are spending increasing time using ‘new media’ like computer and the Internet without cutting back on ‘old’ media like TV and print and many of them tend to using more than one medium at the same time (Kolodzy, 2006). Broadcasting news in multiple platforms make it more reachable and its flexibility give people much more choices. The Internet has played the key roles. According to China Internet Network Information Center (2012), The Internet penetration rate among teenagers has reached 90.9% in China; the online news reading rate reaches 71.5% and 48.7% of the 500 million netizens using microblog (Twitter) as a channel of news. “Teen News” will have multiple channels. It can be subscribed on YouTube and stories will be live tweeted. It also can be watched on the channel’s website while the website will have additional sections to support it.
Features will be posted online as the website creates a perfect convergent environment for multi-media stories. There will be a section for themed news stories and news packages. Combining videos or audios, pictures with articles to fully explore a specific topic like the gap between young people born in 80s and 90s or confusion that may occur to most teenagers. Each week there will be reviews or trailers about a movie or book or computer games that targeted to young people.
In addition, the website will provide a platform for teenagers who are interested in journalism, posting selected news stories produced by them. Through such interactive work, we have a better chance to know how the youth will approach to certain stories and give us hints to produce news for them.
A news quiz and polls will be set up on the website, testing how well they know about the news and whether the programme well reaches target audiences or not.
The website will have a very open environment, in which teenagers’ voices are fully respected and considered. They can freely discuss with us as producers, providing topics they care about and give feedback.
There will be one editor control and supervise the overall work of the programme and the website; two sub-editor to edit articles making sure no improper words or libel issues; three reporters to keep searching, writing and updating news stories; two interactive editors, one to be in charge with twittering, polls, feedback sections, news quiz while another one work with those teen reporters to discuss and edit their news stories; two multi-media editor to be responsible for sub-editing videos, audios and pictures.
Kolodzy, J. Convergence Journalism: writing and reporting across the News Media, 2006 Oxford: Rowman&Littlefield Publishers, Inc
Yawei Yu, The analysis of TV news programme for children, 2008, availabe from http://www.1a3.cn/cnnews/gdsj/200909/8680.html [Accessed by 1 May 2012]
China Internet Development Survey Report, January 2012, Available from http://www.cnnic.cn/dtygg/dtgg/201201/W020120116337628870651.pdf [Accessed by 1 May 2012]