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Editor Megan Haynes explores the new normal-for-now

As companies shift to work from home and productions halt, we look at what this means for the industry and the kids it serves.
March 19, 2020

“While I write this,” has lost all meaning. It’s been a week since I penned my editorial for the upcoming issue of Kidscreen. When I began writing it, COVID-19 still hadn’t been declared a pandemic. A day later, I had to rejig everything. The next day, I had to change it again. We went from working in an office, to the whole Kidscreen team working from home.

The COVID-19 virus has spread across the world, and things are changing very quickly. MIPTV has been cancelled. Licensing Expo has been postponed. (For other kids industry-related cancellations, check out our guide that we’re updating daily.) Travel has been disrupted. A recession is likely. UNESCO estimates more than 850 million kids—about half the world’s students—around the globe are out of school.

Imagine being a child and hearing that this pandemic has broken out worldwide.

Anxiety was already running rampant in their circles. Children are living in a world filled with divisive identity politics. They’re told the planet we know today may be drastically affected by climate change by the time they’re adults. Bullying is everywhere, thanks in no small part to the way social media is changing interpersonal dynamics. (Have you heard of Finsta. The closed account you have just for real friends?) Beauty and masculinity norms are evolving (my style-envy was shaped by Elle, not today’s ever-present Instagram and YouTube models living their #bestlives). Four- and five-year-olds are experiencing active-shooter drills. And now, we have a pandemic. The world is only getting more stressful.

I was so excited to see how quickly the industry could move to tackle the specific stressor of the coronavirus.

Just a week and a half ago, Italy put the entire country on lockdown and cancelled school. That’s a lot of frightened children suddenly stuck at home without their normal support network of peers and teachers. Rai mobilized, sending out targeted content addressing kids’ biggest concerns. It wasn’t fancy: show hosts and celebs answered real questions from kids in new dedicated blocks, and the broadcaster used social media to encourage healthy habits, like good hand hygiene. But Rai got to the heart of anxiety: not understanding something that’s out of your control. We’re seeing similar moves at other broadcasters, streamers and AVODs. Producers and creators are also getting in on the action.

It’s our job in the industry to help kids make sense of things. It doesn’t need to be complicated or complex. For example, Canada’s CBC Kids rolled out an explainer for COVID-19. It was so well put together that CBC News picked it up for its grown-up site.

The pandemic is a rapidly evolving unknown. We have no idea how long the crisis will last, or what implications it will have on short- and long-term business dealings. To that end, Kidscreen Daily is shifting its focus for the foreseeable future.

We still want to hear all about your new deals, new shows and new hires (some normalcy is always a good thing), but you’ll also see an increase in “what now” stories. How are producers and distributors shifting to work-from-home scenarios. What does the lack of markets mean for producers three months, six months, a year from now? How can producers pivot their business plans to account for a possible (likely?) recession? And, importantly: What does this mean for kids?

So, we need to hear from you more than ever. What are you doing short term to address the pandemic (got a cool work-from-home solution? Let us know!), and how are you addressing mid-term and long-term impacts of the virus? Reach out to myself (mhaynes@brunico.com) and our daily editorial team news editor Alexandra Whyte (awhyte@brunico.com) and writer Ryan Tuchow (rtuchow@brunico.com) with updates. (And, even if you don’t have COVID-related info to share, feel free to touch base and let us know how you’re doing, we’ll all get through this together.)

While we don’t know what the world will look like on the other end of it, we at Kidscreen are going to do our best to provide you all the information you need to help you, your business, and kids, get through this frightening time.

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