9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN04 Sociology of Children and Childhood

2009-09-05 09:00:00 2009-09-05 10:30:00 Saturday, 5 September 09:00 - 10:30 Representations of Childhood Building II, C6.02

Constructing the viewer, making the citizen: young people's relationship with TV news

This paper aims to discuss young people's relationship with television news. As David Buckingham (2000: vii) has pointed out, "news has become our primary means of access to the public sphere", not only for general public but also for the youngsters. In Portugal, television news broadcasts are watched everyday by a large percentage of families, accompanying their dinner time. This means that children watch daily news as well. But, we may ask, what news do they watch? What are these news items about? What news stories do they prefer? What do children value in news? What values do the TV news transmit?
In order to answer these research questions we analysed the young people audience rating (4-14 years old) of news bulletins of two Portuguese TV channels - the main public channel (RTP) and the private channel with highest audience ratings (TVI). The data collected cover the entire year of 2008, involving 366 news bulletins of each channel. We have considered for analysis a sample of five news stories with the highest rating among young people in each daily news bulletin (data source: Marktest?s people meter). These news stories have been compared with those most rated among adults aged 35-44 years old (corresponding, grosso modo, to the age of young people's parents).
This paper provides an account of how young people relate to television news and what kind of news stories attracts the interest or attention of this audience. Discussing the results, we intend either to reflect about how television constitutes the viewer as a citizen and as a potential participant in the public sphere or to understand what citizenship and what idea of human rights are being constructed through TV news.