Socially responsible newspapers

Norske Skog sponsored a global study on newspaper coverage of children in 2003. Led by Norwegian psychologist Magne Raundalen, this survey involved 70 school classes in 24 countries reading newspapers daily for one week and categorising all the articles they found which concerned children.

Almost a third of these stories were found to portray youngsters as victims, while 17 per cent could be classified under the heading “children are brilliant.” The school pupils who took part said they would like to see more coverage of children whom they could identify with in their daily lives.
Marit Haukom, editor-in-chief of theTønsbergs Blad newspaper and chair of the Norwegian Editors’ Association, admits that newspapers face a dilemma over “children as victims” stories. “It's part of our social responsibility to focus a spotlight on social issues which call for improvement,” she says.
“We have to represent theweaker members of society.”On the other hand, newspapers also seeks to carry articles which reflect the lives of average children, most of whom are neither victims nor exceptionally brilliant.
“It's important that the media make a commitment to self-assessment over time, look at their coverage and analyse the angles they have adopted,” Haukom notes.

CRITICAL MEDIA CONSUMERS
In Haukom's view, the most important issue where young readers are concerned is to ensure that they grow up reading newspapers and that they learn to question sources of information.
“Teaching them to be critical is a real challenge. They must ask themselves, 'CanI believe this?' That's particularly true today because of the amount of information on the internet. If children don't learn to be critical media consumers from an early age, standards really could decline.”At the same time, newspapers must make their information understandable and appealing if they want to encourage the younger generation to become readers.
“Children read newspapers for one reasononly - in order to find something which interests them,” Haukom acknowledges.  Related Information
Socially responsible newspapers
Young readers

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Norske Skogindustrier ASA, PB 294 Skøyen, 0213 Oslo, Norway

Phone: +47 22 51 20 20 - Main fax: +47 22 51 20 21