17
'A fresh peach is easier to bruise'

Children and traumatic news1
Cynthia Carter and Maire Messenger Davies
What have journalism researchers had to say about children's relationship to traumatic news?
Why are parents often encouraged to protect their children from frightening news stories?
How do certain cultural constructions of childhood shape journalism research and what assumptions are made about the child news audience?
In what ways are children used as symbols in traumatic news?
How do children respond to the news coverage of frightening events?

Journalism researchers have rarely attached much importance to studying the relationship of children and young people to the news. Few studies have sought to understand the ways in which certain ideological models of childhood innocence and vulnerability shape journalistic assumptions, the ways in which young people tend to be represented in the news, how child audiences make sense of it, or even what sort of provision is made for children's print, broadcast and online news in the first place. Meanwhile, adult broadcast and print news organizations in the UK and US have found it to be increasingly difficult to attract sufficiently large numbers of younger audiences during a period that has also seen a steady decline in many young people's interest in electoral politics. Both of these developments are worrying political leaders and journalists alike. Without a sufficiently informed citizenry, how best to ensure the future health of democratic politics?

For all the talk about wanting to reinvigorate political debate and participation few journalists appear to appreciate the need for forms of news that might encourage in young people a sense of belonging and engagement with the world from the earliest years of their lives. Nor have most journalism scholars thought that this issue warrants rigorous scholarly analysis (exceptions include Barnhurst and Wartella 1991; Carter 2004; Davies 2004; Lemish 1998; Lester-Roushanzamir and Raman 1999). There appears to be

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