'We Will Never Mention Coalition Talks'

Guy Zohar is to present a new news program aimed at children.

While the computer, the Internet, ICQ and Messenger compete for both adults' and children's precious time, local television is trying to offer this audience more reasons, not just to watch it, but also to use it as a reliable source of information.

There are now seven children's channels and tonight marks the launch of a new magazine program produced by Channel 10, which will be broadcast on the Children Channel. "Five-thirty," with Guy Zohar, is a weekly program that summarizes the week's news, collected from Channel 10's "The Day that Was," and adapts it for children.

Another connection between Channel 10 news and children was recently formed on the channel's morning program too.

Since mid-January there has been a news spot for children (in light of the current discussions concerning the planned cancellation of this news spot, hopefully the initiative by "The Day that Was" team will fair better).

Guy Zohar, who will present "Five-thirty" (edited by Aviv Lavie), speaks of bringing the story back into the news. In the children's edition he will talk about how news programs are made and the nature of the press, as much as he will be relaying information to children. He wants to teach them about the five "W"s of a news item (who, what, when, where and why), about the principles of the innocence of a person until proven guilty, about balance and the absence of criticism, and to tell them some of the tricks in obtaining news.

He speaks about educating toward critical thinking. In short, things that were forgotten long ago by the editions intended for adults.

As he says of his program, "The agenda is more civilian than political. We will never mention 'coalition talks.'"

Short stories

Zohar, married and father of three (5, 4 and 1 month), relates how he has changed his viewing habits since his children were born. "My whole life the TV was on in the background. I would come home and immediately turn it on," he says.

Zohar and his wife decided to turn it off and to turn it on only to see something specific, he says, and is amazed that this does not happen very often. His children, therefore, do not watch the news, and in any case, "Five-thirty" is intended for older children, aged 8-13.

The news magazine, which replaces the previous daily news program on the children's channel, will feature short news stories.

"There will be a stop-watch beside me," explains Zohar, "which won't allow me to ramble on too much about one topic, something I would never dream of doing on an adult news program."

There will be lots of entertainment news, spots on consumerism, items that show children where they stand compared to others (how m any children have cellular telephones, for example). In the meantime, no decision has been made concerning how to handle disasters such as terror attacks. There will also be a spot in which children express their ideas and opinions. On today's program, for example, Tehila Gidron, 12, of Herzliya, will speak about a study that found that girls find it more difficult to solve mathematical problems that relate to fields that interest boys.

Zohar has decided to dress the same as he does on his nighttime program - in a suit, and to speak the same way.

"The idea is not to be patronizing, to speak normally, using regular language. This is not a history lesson."

As for the adjustment for a children's audience, Zohar replies with a smile, "My critics always tell me the night program is a bit childish."

There will be no shades of dire straits in the children's news program.

"It will portray a rounded picture of the world," says Zohar, who wants children to understand the significance of news to their lives.

So far, working on the program "is very interesting and enjoyable," says Zohar. "Like raising children, you discover countless things about yourself."

The news spot on Channel 10's morning program aimed for an opposite process. Instead of broadcasting an edition suited to children, it attempted to attract children to a program intended for adults, at an unreasonable hour in the morning. Zohar notes another strange bit of information, according to which what turned "Desperate Housewives" from a somewhat popular program into a real hit was the addition of children viewers.

As for the dilemma regarding children's news in the morning, the main criticism of it is that the logic behind it is doubtful, since the program is watched only by adults.