In an effort to quell the post-Columbine, blame-the-media backlash, a 33-person group of educators and kids media execs is readying to release Special Considerations for Creators of Children’s Media; a revamped pamphlet of voluntary guidelines for producers of kids entertainment product.
The project builds on an initiative pioneered by DIC Entertainment five years ago. This time, the company teamed up with Mediascope, a nonprofit advocate of realistic portrayal of society in entertainment properties, to host a two-day event in mid-September called The Children’s Media Summit: Developing Guidelines for Creative Professionals. The conference attracted representatives from organizations like the National Education Association (NEA) and the Parent Teachers Association (PTA), as well as TV bigwigs including Disney’s Barry Blumberg, Donna Friedman from Kids’ WB! and Roland Poindexter from Fox Kids.
Charged with updating the original DIC guidelines based on input culled from the Summit’s open dialogues, an eight-person drafting committee added clauses encouraging creative teams to portray non-nuclear families and to avoid glamorizing bullies. The new guide, which has been restructured into the three categories of Character & Values, Conflict & Violence and Diversity & Stereotypes, also stresses that it’s not enough to measure diversity by quotas. Rather it’s how these minorities are portrayed that has the most impact on young audiences.
DIC’s executive VP of creative affairs Robby London believes it would be na-ve to expect the guideline to revolutionize the kids biz overnight. ‘I believe in small change and I think this will have at least that,’ he forecasts. ‘Even the violence-mongering writers will absorb it and have it rattling around in their heads when they sit down to write.’
At press time, distribution methods were still being hammered out, but the pamphlet will likely be available on Mediascope’s Web site (www.mediascope.org) at the start of this month. JL