VIDEO: Sheffield pupils have their say for big new debate

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A group of Sheffield schoolchildren destroyed every negative teenage stereotype when they teamed up with The Star for a debate on press freedom.

We challenged the youngsters from Bradfield School to give their opinions as part of Local Newspaper Week and were thrilled with their response.

The debate covered everything from the Royal family and celebrities to news happening in their own school and neighbourhoods.

The group, aged between 12 and 15, were quick to stress they believe freedom of speech and press freedom are vital to any democracy so everyone has access to the information they need.

But they had mixed opinions on well-known characters’ right to privacy and the role of politicians.

There were also questions raised about whether royalty were in fact ‘tourist attractions’ and if news coverage of the family could even attract visitors from overseas and boost the UK economy.

The group was completely united in wanting to read more positive stories about their own age group.

They gave the thumbs up to yesterday’s front page story about winning the war on litter and The Star’s education supplement Class Act.

There was also agreement that it was good for The Star to publish the annual exam results so everyone could see what teenagers can achieve.

Local news about what is going on in schools and youth groups should be printed to balance out stories about teen gangs and criminal activity, some believed.

Samuel Harden, aged 14, said he worked hard to do his bit breaking down the image of teenagers being troublemakers.

“We have a big issue about how young people are represented in the media,” he said.

“There are a lot of negative stereotypes and the media go for negative stories before they go for positive ones.

“In Sheffield there are young people who get out there and there are lots of positive things that young people do but it gets overshadowed by the minority.”

However many of the group admitted that they might be more likely to read a sensational story about dramatic events than pick up a newspaper with a dull front page.

Stanley Ward believes the media has more power than the Government and said some politicians come across as being more worried about how they appear in the press than what policies they support.

Molly Winton, 15, heaped praise on sections of the press who campaign to bring about positive change.

And Emma Perkins highlighted the challenge of creating a newspaper which could appeal to everyone.

The 15-year-old said: “There is always going to be stuff in there that not everybody likes, so it is hard to get the balance,” she said.




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