May 03, 2011

Rethinking the News

As a former TV news anchor (I still think of myself as a journalist, even though I'm not currently working in that industry), I am something of a news junkie. I check the local news websites daily and try to catch some of the local or national news each day. I've come to realize in the last few weeks how difficult it is to watch the news when impressionable children are around.
I'm not going to write a post about how "bad" the news is. Bad things happen in the world and they need to be reported. As a former reporter, I can tell you we would much rather be assigned the fun, uplifting stories. Unfortunately, that doesn't always happen.
I used to constantly flip through various local channels. I enjoy seeing how different stations cover the same stories. It's the reporter in me. I want to critique their coverage, see who "owned" the story. I used to hit the "previous channel" button and go back and forth between two stations. Now when I hit the "previous channel" button, I'm frantically trying to go to Sprout or some other channel that won't have my daughters asking too many questions.
It all started with the recent tornadoes. Hubby and I were watching the news and seeing the devastation. One of the girls asked Hubby a question about tornadoes. I can't remember the exact question, but it led us to explain the tornado sirens in our neighborhood and why we sometimes go to the basement. The next day was a gloomy, overcast day. Tortilla wanted to know if we should go to the basement to hide from the tornadoes. I tried to explain that tornadoes are rare in this area (sort of) and that mommy and daddy will always watch for bad weather. I can't imagine what it must have been like for her, at age 5, to sit there watching the news and see all the homes that were destroyed. Clearly it stuck with her.
The past few days, I've made it a point to not watch the news when my girls are in the room. I'm not ready to explain Osama Bin Laden or Sept. 11 to them. Yes, it's something they need to know about. They've seen coverage of 9/11 memorials and I've talked about how a "very sad thing" happened that day. I just don't know if 5-year-olds are ready for the entire story. Maybe I'm wrong.
Still, the news has provided us some levity in the last week. My daughters delighted in seeing "the princess get married." During the kisses, though, all four of them squealed "ewwwwww!"
I'm still a news junkie, just not as addicted as I once was. For now, I'll have to monitor what I watch until my daughters are old enough to handle some of the hard truths about the world.


MaryAnne said...

This is why I listen to NPR instead of watching the news, most of the time. It's hard to balance how much young children should know, and how much to leave for when they're older. Even NPR can lead to difficult questions - and then there's the kids' constant request (demand) for "kid music"!

reanbean said...

We almost never have the TV on at our house. But our local NPR news station is pretty much on all the time whenever we're home. Just like TV and print news, the big stories are often the unhappy ones. Only recently have my two started picking up on words and phrases that they hear from the radio and commenting or asking about them. I'm still pretty confident that all of these news stories are going right over their heads, but once it's clear to me that they're not, I'm not sure what I'll do. I know there are some parents out there who do a beautiful job talking about and explaining the hard truths to their children. But, honestly, I'd much rather just let my kid be a kid and oblivious to some of those unpleasant things for as long as they can. They'll find out soon enough.

Christina said...

We don't watch the news with my kiddos either, there is a lot of crazy stuff happening I don't want them seeing. How cool you were a reporter! What a fun job. =)

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