As Newsround celebrates its 50th birthday, Shanequa Paris meets a Strictly star, encounters a women’s basketball team and reports on sexism.
It’s 9:00am, my phone rings. “Hey, Shanequa, can you do a report about dog poo?” Yes, this is my life at CBBC Newsround. But it’s one of the reasons why I love it so much. I’m starting this week by putting on my pink glitter wellies and heading to my local park in Manchester to find as much dog poo as possible, to highlight the rise of mess in public places and speak to some kids who aren’t happy about it.
Sorry if you’re eating your breakfast right now but, funnily enough, kids aren’t grossed out by things like this, and I think that’s what makes Newsround so special. The team reports on things that matter to children and, after 50 years, only a few things have changed in how Newsround operates.
Since 1972, when John Craven brought us what was missing from TV – news for children – we’ve been sharing the news with the most important people in the world. As we reach Newsround’s 50th birthday, we’re still going strong.
It’s been a manic week at NR HQ, with big preparations for the anniversary. I’m swapping my wellies for heels to speak to The One Show. It’s so refreshing to be able to brag about this job because the team works really hard to inform and entertain children – and makes it look so effortless.
I had the pleasure of speaking to past presenters, such as Lizo Mzimba and John Craven, this week. John said one thing that has never changed since his first bulletin is that we keep it short, simple and interesting.
With so many tragedies and scary things happening in the world, presenting the news for children can be difficult. But we endeavour to reassure kids and offer lots of advice on what to do if they are upset by the news – and, most importantly, highlight the positives in a sad story.
Covering the crisis in Ukraine has been a challenge. Not only are we reporting on a war but it’s to an audience who have not lived long enough to experience something tragic like this close to home.
Our way of tackling this is to always support children and not focus on the bad news but highlight how many heroes there are.
Some of the Newsround team travelled to the Polish border and my fellow presenter Jenny Lawrence spoke to some amazing children who were helping Ukrainian kids with food, toys and translation.
When you think about it, children can be the most curious set of people. If you tell a child that the sky is blue, chances are that they’ll ask you why, and your answer will probably make them ask why again.
When a young girl asked me why she didn’t see any women playing basketball on the telly, I went to find out why, which saw me on a two-hour train journey to meet the London Lions women’s team to get an answer. You might be surprised about the things kids want to know about, so I encourage you to ask your kids, nieces or nephews what they care about.
Then it’s time to have a chat on CBBC with Strictly Come Dancing star Rhys Stephenson and feed off his energy to introduce a Newsround special, “Let’s talk about sexism”, for the lovely viewers eating their after-school cereal.
Now, sitting here scrolling through my Instagram, I feel privileged to be a part of such a groundbreaking programme. Being able to share the news sporting my afro puff or cornrows to the most inquisitive audience is heart-warming.
I’m raising a glass of Prosecco to wish Newsround a Happy 50th Birthday and hopefully many more!
Shanequa Paris is a presenter on the BBC’s Newsround.