News is not for kids
Posted December 9, 2008
One of the most frequent criticisms we get in the television news business is that people don't feel comfortable watching it with their children in the room. And here's the thing –I agree. News is not suitable for children, it's not supposed to be.
Producers of local news programs take into account a lot of different variables. They want to appeal to viewers in Raleigh as well as in other parts of the market, like Fayetteville and Rocky Mount. They want to attract female and male viewers. Their goal is to appeal to the widest possible audience, but that doesn't include children.
If we based our news coverage on what is appropriate for children, we could not report on the terrorist attacks in Mumbai, the Iraq War, or local murder cases. By definition, news is an uncensored re-telling of global and local events that touch our lives. In order for our viewers to get the maximum benefit from our coverage, it is imperative that we assume our audience can handle mature content.
So, what's the answer? We are lucky enough to live in a time when technology has allowed us to make better choices. My best friend, a confirmed news junkie, DVR's the local news (on WRAL, of course) every day and watches it with her husband after her children go to bed. This allows her to give the coverage their full attention without worrying about what inappropriate images her children might be exposed to. If she needs to find out about a news story immediately while she is home with her children she simply logs onto our Web site.
And here's another revolutionary idea, one my parents used when I was growing up –ask the kids to leave the room. It's that simple.