Ages: 8 - 12Producer: ideastream® Rating: TV Y7 - Older Children

Quality journalism is more important now than ever before, and NewsDepth, a PBS show based in Cleveland, is doing its best to show young viewers the importance of fair and balanced reporting.

Using a half-hour format, the show presents stories that any newscast might: an explanation of Chinese tariffs, a report on radioactive contamination found in a local Ohio school, a look at what it means for the president of the United States to take a vacation, and a proposed NASA moon mission with a woman astronaut. Featured segments, such as the particularly delightful Spot on Science, add to the mix.

Host Rick Jackson is the main anchor, introducing the segments and stories, but also creating a warm and interactive environment. The show regularly asks for feedback from viewers and reports back on what the feedback is. Tweets and polls are featured. Graphics and maps help act as explainers. Stories about doing good for others are a big part of the show – high school teens who build a standing-up sandbox for a kindergartener in a wheel chair or sixth graders raising money for philanthropy. A tweet of the week focuses on students helping raise awareness for muscular dystrophy. It’s real news, but it’s got an optimistic angle. The Inbox features notes from viewers on topics from previous weeks.

Full disclosure: As a longtime reporter for USA TODAY and now a college journalism instructor, I will always champion a free press and I will always appreciate a story well told. It’s refreshing to find news being done right – balanced, fair, interactive, and occasionally humorous. What’s most commendable is that NewsDepth is doing important work that needs to be done, and will, hopefully, foster an interest in news reporting and media literacy in young viewers.


Ann Oldenburg ©2020 Parents’ Choice

Ann Oldenburg, lecturer and assistant director of the journalism program at Georgetown University, writes about television, food, workplace issues and other pop culture topics. A University of Florida Gator with a degree in journalism, she began her career at The Washington Post and spent more than two decades with USA TODAY. She and her husband have three sons and live in McLean, Virginia.