February 9, 2005

NEWS: Children's newspapers told the tsunami story like it really was - but with a little extra care

World Young Reader Network News #11 - From the World Association of Newspapers
(FOR YOUR BACKGROUND: WAN, the global organisation for the newspaper industry, represents 18,000 newspapers; its membership includes 72 national newspaper associations,  individual newspaper executives in 102 countries, ten news agencies and ten regional and world-wide press groups. In 1991, it established a global Committee to specialize in young reader issues and, in 1998, a World Young Reader Network of newspapers that make a special effort to reach the young. Our web site: www.wan-press.org
Please free to reprint the material and do let us know your own news and comments.

Dr. Aralynn McMane, WAN Director of Development and Education
7 rue Geoffroy St. Hilaire, 75005 Paris France
E-mail: amcmane@wan.asso.fr
Tel: +33 1 47 42 85 00, Fax: +33 1 47 42 49 48
Children?s newspapers told the tsunami story like it really was ? but with a little extra care
A World Association of Newspapers Special Report
In children?s newspapers worldwide, editors reacted to the tsunami in Asia with carefully crafted coverage and opportunities for young readers to help.
Paris has some of the world?s few dailies for children ? four, in fact, for different age groups, published by Play Bac Press.  Each covered the tragedy in a slightly different way, but all four emphasized the facts of the situation.

?We don?t do Disneyland,? said François Dufour, editor of the newspapers.
Mon Quotidien, targeting 9- to 13-year-olds, is the company?s flagship paper and the one with the highest circulation (about 60,000 daily).
?One can say it all to children and even show a dead body, but it must be done in a manner that doesn?t traumatize them,? Mon Quotidien deputy editor Olivier Gasselin told Agence France-Presse, ?and you certainly cannot sensationalize.? Thus, the only image it published of a body showed anguished Indian parents grieving over their dead child, with only the top of the child?s head visible.  
For the youngest children, in Quoti for 5- to 7-year-olds and Le Petit Quotidien for readers aged 7 to 9 years, photos showed mainly destroyed houses, survivors and rescue workers, with maps and infographics. L?actu, the paper for the oldest group, starting at age 14, showed similar images but dealt with the more complex issues of the threat of epidemics and the political question of how guerrilla activities could hamper humanitarian efforts.
All four newspapers defined key words, such as ?tsunami,?? ?repatriate?? and ?natural disaster,?? and put the accent on people like their readers ? children ? highlighting, for example, the estimate that one in three victims was a child.
The weekly Junior Inquirer supplement to the Philippine Daily Inquirer in Manila didn?t mince words either. It led its 8 January issue with: ?Children, too small and weak to run fast enough or to hold on to safety, are the biggest victims of one of the world?s worst natural disasters.? It showed aerial photos of the Aceh, Indonesia, coastline before and after the wave hit and a very informative but simple infographic about how a tsunami emerges.
A Toronto-based Sri Lankan girl became a reporter for the Brand New Planet supplement of the Toronto Star in Canada, writing on the web site each day about what she found important in the news.
The newspapers helped their young readers to not lose hope and also gave them a chance to do something about it.
A story headlined ?Kids around the world reach out? showed photos of a child collecting money from a rickshaw puller, a child praying at a special inter-faith service at a Buddhist temple in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and a young girl in Hong Kong putting money into a donation box. The story explained several ways to give donations to the Philippines National Red Cross.
The French dailies featured the story of Tilly from the United Kingdom, on vacation with her family in Thailand, whose school class on tsunami caused her to recognize the signs and alert dozens of people to leave the beach.
?We ran some great letters from kids [who reported that their cohorts] all over the city were doing fund-raising and also wanted to tell their stories,? said Sue Grimbly, editor of Brand New Planet.
The Play Bac group explained how schools were going to help young people express their concerns and where they could donate money. Mon Petit Quotidien, organized its own relief fund by publishing coupon-receipts to help children collect money. After adding its own 30,000 Euros (revenues from one day?s paper), Play Bac will send the money to UNICEF and Save the Children. By the end of January, donations totaled 75,000?, with 5,000? still arriving each day.
But some publications took the opportunity to remind readers that other parts of the world also needed help. Kids? Bizz is a quarterly children?s newspaper with 30,000 copies distributed in schools in the London borough of Ealing. It is promoting a fund-raising campaign for  countries that are receiving less media coverage, especially Somalia. The borough has a large Somali population and the paper is responding to specific needs there.
The challenge for Newspapers in Education around the world has been to add to the efforts of newspapers.
In Sweden, which lost thousands of its citizens who were vacationing in the region affected by the tsunami, ?almost all newspapers have engaged in gathering money and other forms of assistance,? explained Göran Subenko, who runs the Newspapers in Education programme for the Swedish newspaper association.  ?We try never to compete with our employers, but try to inspire our readers to read and act in collaboration with them.?
He said the programme?s emphasis, through its homepage, was on giving teachers advice on how to use ? and not use ? the mass media and how to talk to children about such difficult matters. A little later, it described how Swedish newspapers covered the event.  The next phase was to explain the newspapers? role in covering the tsunami and to defend the coverage in the face of some angry reaction from readers. After that, NIE offered teachers advice on how to use the materials for analysis and on teaching the pupils to write for themselves.
How about NIE in your country.
How did it help young readers understand?
You can contact me at amcmane@wan.asso.fr 

Chris Schuepp
Young People's Media Network - Coordinator
c/o ECMC (European Centre for Media Competence)
Bergstr. 8 / 10th floor
D-45770 Marl - Germany

Tel.: +49 2365 502480
Mobile: +49 176 23107083
Fax: +49 12126 23107083
Email: cschuepp@unicef.org
URL: www.unicef.org/magic
Mailing list: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/youthful-media

The YPMN is supported by UNICEF and hosted by the ECMC.

The opinions and views expressed in this message and/or articles & websites linked to from this message do not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies.

No comments: