I recently read a webpage that talked about events from 1994. I was surprised at how much I remembered — I was only 8.
- Oklahoma bombing
- French nuclear tests
- O.J. Simpson trial
- Brent Spar oil rig disposal debate
- John Major resigning then unresigning
- The huge success of (What’s The Story) Morning Glory?
- US government offices closing
- Rosemary West being found guilty
- Deep Blue beating Garry Kasparov
- Dunblane massacre
I am quite surprised by the number of major events that completely passed me by, others that I never learned about until years later (e.g. Nick Leeson), while there are other stories that I remember so vivdly. I’m amazed that some of these happened when I was nine. I thought I was about 14 when Rosemary West was found guilty.
I was definitely a bit of a news junkie by the time I was nine though. I always came home for lunch from school, and I always watched the news because it was the only interesting thing on.
This brings us on to the whole cause of this news nostalgia. Newsround is now aimed at a younger audience: 9 years old and under. Cue the inevitable accusations of dumbing down, despite the fact that Newsround has always been a “dumb” news programme because it’s aimed at children, which are mostly pretty stupid people.
But what is the use in a dumbed down news programme, whether it’s the ITV Lunchtime News or Newsround? I hated Newsround when I was a child; I never watched it. The reason is simple. When I wasn’t interested in the news I didn’t want to watch Newsround. When I became interested in the news, I wanted to watch the news, not some patronising children’s TV presenter giving me news-lite or some boring story about a panda taking a shit.
This is the same reason why the DCMS’s big idea of getting BBC Three to do yoof news (which I mentioned in my previous post) completely flopped. I actually quite liked BBC Three’s news programme because it was sometimes quite amusing, and it was generally quite a good programme. But I didn’t watch it because of the news it gave me. I liked BBC Three news for what it was, but I didn’t kid myself on that I was watching the news. Deep inside I knew that if I actually wanted to watch the news I would have been watching Channel 4 News or News 24.
This is such a simple idea, but broadcasters don’t seem to grasp it. If you want the news — whether you’re 9, 20 or 50 — you are going to watch the actual news, not the news pretending to be something else, or something else pretending to be the news, or some kind of pseudo-news aimed at a particular demographic.