News and Views Aimed at Children

American children are news conscious, but the typical television reporter's language discourages them from listening.

That's the concensus of opinion of hundreds of youngsters queried by Sandy Becker and Sonny Fox, hosts of two of New York's most popular television hosts for children seen over Channel 5.

Both Becker and Fox have implemented their findings by providing news "themed for children" for more than a year.

The children's news segments are regular features of the Monday through Friday "Sandy Becker Show" and Sonny Fox's four-hour Sunday morning "Wonderama" program.

The general lack of such news programs geared for children's viewing was a high point in the recent blast at the television industry by FCC Chairman Newton Minow.

The station's initial effort along those lines came during the Presidential primaries last year when the "Wonderama" program included audience participation as well as a briefing on what primaries are and how they work.

Sandy Becker's news segments are presided over by Henry Headline, a puppet, who offers light news items. Sandy does not think serious news items should be offered to the very young. "The impact of a major news story might be lost to them or it might even frighten them. They'll learn about wars and international crises soon enough. I try to keep the news as light as possible. Occasionally I'll use an item that has historical value."

Other devices used to interest children in news events are Sonny Fox's "Wonderama" program with the nation's outstanding athletes, who pointed up the importance of keeping physically fit; his four-hour show on Israeli life giving American youngsters an insight into that land's rich heritage; coverage of various news stories by Fox's crew of free-lance "leg-men"; a report by an 11-year-old correspondent on the Special Security Council debate at which the United States and the Soviet Union exchange charges of espionage following the U-2 incident.


CAPTION: Henry Headline joins Sandy Becker in a discussion of the lighter side of the day's news each Monday through Friday on Channel 5.
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