Tuesday, September 16, 2014

What Should Children See on Television or in Print?

I remember from my childhood sensing an uncomfortable response on my parents' part when the Monica Lewinsky scandal broke and was given extensive television coverage.  Immediately it became a problem as to which of their children could or should watch the news.  

Now with me at that age it was usually a nonissue, as I would rather go off and come back later and watch the Weird Science television program.  TV news was too much like those films of earnest education value we got in school.  Likewise, Mike, the brother closest to my age, was told to go to the boys' room and occupy himself with homework or playing WNOE or one of those FM stations he discovered.  

As for my three oldest sibs, they were allowed to watch, even as the story became more sordid.  Unfortunately for that strategy, these older siblings were quick to impart their knowledge to the others.  Now our response was "Ewww!  Yuck!", as children are wont to say.  And we felt slightly disfranchised.  Nowadays I avoid televised news if I can.  Seeing it in print, especially the Times-Picyaune, is my preference. 

Now at that time the Times-Picyaune used the catch-all term crime against nature, which I assumed could include picking flowers in the park or something.  Believe me, I was mindful not to pick the flowers; even the Indian paintbrushes or railroad daisies that grew in City Park almost randomly.  

Okay, my long intro aside, what should be covered in the televised or print news?  As some old slogan had it, "All the news that's fit to print."  Which was easily satirized as "All the news we can fit, we print."  Children are naturally disposed to sarcasm.  Blame it on television or video games, if it makes you happy.

Then there's excessively graphic violence.  Recently, Atlantic online had a picture from the Iraq war that I found to be stomach-churning.  My thought was that this was too much information, especially before my bagel and coffee!  I know the writer was trying to make a point; but goddam......

It was too graphic for me.


With news coverage or pictures the writer or illustrator should always keep her or his mind on the prize (the story), and not given into the cheap frisson of sensationalism.  News is not keeping up with the Kardashians or other filler beloved by the gossip publications.

Also, they should keep in mind their likely audience.  My fictional characters Al Gautreaux and Missy Chauvin would never go in for the cheap coverage that is too much for kids or dotty old professors even though New Orleans local news has plenty of scope for that!




14 comments:

Elvis Wearing a Bra on His Head said...

I remember my uncle commenting about Executive Privilege.

Grand Crapaud said...

The term crime against nature says nothing but makes assumptions.

Linda Kay said...

I don't remember watching much news as a kid, just always had the newspaper. My mother thought everything in print had to be truth, sort of common to her generation. The Vietnam war seemed to open journalism to all kinds of violence and it has snowballed since then. Even prime time TV is way to graphic..Criminal Minds for example, and all the cop shows. It's tough now as a parent to decide. Just leave it off?

MarkD60 said...

I took a high school class where we read Newsweek Magazine. I was amazed about how I felt like I could get a grasp on what was going on in the world.
Now I think the media gives the "Bad Guys" more power.

TexWisGirl said...

i don't think we humans draw the line anymore. however, when news outlets refused to show the beheading video, i applauded them. i've not watched the ray rice video, either, even tho every news outlet offered it and showed it.

Mike said...

I'll blame this on the media, but when you said, '...was told to go to the boys' room and occupy himself...', my mind went in a different direction than what came next in your post.

Big Sky Heidi said...

I remember the sense that "this was too much for Little Heidi."

Big Sky Heidi said...

And am I imagining things, but has the news gotten more tacky?

Cloudia said...

fun romp




ALOHA from Honolulu
ComfortSpiral
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Jen said...

Unfortunately, the news is more about ratings than it is about informing us of current events.

Munir said...

Great Post.
My daughter is so disgusted about commercials on the television that she says that when she has children she will not have a television, just DVDs for her kids to watch.

Bilbo said...

News isn't really about information any more, but about advertising sales and ratings. I was disgusted at the level of detail in the newspapers about the Monica Lewinski scandal ... if I'd wanted to read about such things, I could have subscribed to "Penthouse" or something.

Kristen Drittsekkdatter said...

It was too much information back then for me!

beach lad said...

the standard of our tv news is still pretty good I must say - the papers are a different story - scandal/sensationalism/innuendo have replaced the 'to inform the people' mantra.