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Newsround turns 50

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Newsround turns 50

John Craven’s Newsround burst onto screens on April 4th, 1972…

For half a century, Newsround has played a significant role in making news accessible to generations of children and enabling them to understand the world around them. John Craven’s mantra of “keep it short, simple and interesting” is as vital today as it was in 1972, and in the era of fake news, Newsround is seen as a trusted and credible news source. For most of its life the show has aired on BBC One, these days however you’ll find it on the CBBC channel.

John Craven remembers:

“On April 4 1972, I perched on a chair in a news studio at BBC Television Centre and presented the first ever Newsround bulletin, telling children across the UK the big news stories of the day. It was the start of a six-week experiment on BBC One. We knew that children weren’t interested in the news and usually didn’t watch it, so the Deputy Director of BBC Children’s, Edward Barnes, decided to create a news show especially for young audiences which would change their minds.

“The task of Newsround was to capture children’s attention with stories about adventure, wildlife, sport, space travel, the experiences of other children here and around the world and so on – as well as delivering to them the big news of the day that they should know about. Our aim was to make it short, simple without being simplistic and, most of all, interesting. We also wanted to make the show not feel ‘stuffy’ so there was no conventional newsdesk and I wore casual clothing.

“Who would have believed that this little experiment in news for children, the first in the world, would still be going strong after half a century? Certainly not me. Newsround’s role is more vital than ever today, when there is such easy access to false news and information; children can always be assured that Newsround will tell them the truth. I’m very proud of what we created 50 years ago and how it is still seen by many as an essential part of the fabric of British childhood. I’m sure Newsround will continue to grow and flourish during the next 50 years.”

Past and present hosts of Newsround celebrate its 50th.

The show is watched by an estimated 2m kids at least once a week in schools and visited online by around 850k unique browsers a week to read the latest articles on world news, animals, celebrities, gaming and the latest playground trend.

Each story is told with truth, clarity and simplicity, to keep kids informed on issues including racism, equality, Covid-19 and more recently the Ukraine crisis, where the show has reported on the conflict and continually reassured its young audience.

Newsround has been at the heart of many historical events, reporting on natural disasters, wars, famines, elections, terror attacks and many other key moments from the last 50 years. From breaking news stories, like the attempted assassination of Pope John Paul II in 1981 and the Space Shuttle Challenger crash in 1986, Newsround has continually been at the forefront of explaining news to children.

John Craven:

“Newsround started in 1972 because the TV executives in children’s television had a six-minute gap to fill with the schedules on Tuesdays and Thursdays. They decided to create a news bulletin for children, as research showed that children hated the news. They were tired of being told by their parents to be quiet when the news is on which built up a huge resistance to it. Our job was to try to break down that resistance in these six weeks.

“I was asked to do it because I was already doing a children’s programme called Search, which was a current affairs programme. I came up with the title of Newsround because it reminded me of a paper round. The boss said, “if it’s a paper round, it’s normally somebody’s paper round like Joe Bloggs’ or Gillian Greene’s paper round. So this will be John Craven’s Newsround”. And that’s how it got the title.”

The current presenters and reporters for Newsround.

John Craven’s Newsround was much more informal, with the newsdesk removed, the presenter standing in front of the camera and John himself wearing a series of fun wool knits. John also coined the phrase “and finally”, rounding the show off with a lighthearted news story that is still used today. Many famous faces have passed through the Newsround studio as presenters, including Channel 4 News’ Krishnan Guru-Murthy, ITV News’ Julie Etchingham, BBC Entertainment Correspondent Lizo Mzimba, and many more.

Following in John Craven’s footsteps, the show continues to produce award-winning specials on a range of topics including The Holocaust, periods, dyslexia, bullying, mental health, racism and many more. These specials reflect the lives of British kids and offer them a voice.

Tim Davie, BBC Director-General:

“Children want to understand events and the world around them. Newsround was a brilliant idea 50 years ago and it is just as relevant today – perhaps even more so in a world of misinformation.”

As a celebration of Newsround’s 50th anniversary and to continue to reach young viewers and tell stories that matter to its audience, the show has announced some exciting future plans such as the return of the Press Pack Scheme, a British Sign Language version of Newsround and today a special 50th Anniversary Newsround bulletin.

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