CBBC’s Newsround has been on air since 1972. The format has evolved over the years and now the team behind it has announced that it will produce an eight-minute daily bulletin to air every morning on CBBC and BBC iPlayer, while its popular Newsround website and new YouTube channel will offer more in-depth stories and features than ever before.
Educate recently had the opportunity to interview Ricky Boleto, one of Newsround’s longest serving reporters. Ricky started on the show aged just 22, after studying a degree in Journalism at Southampton Solent University.
What made you want to work for Newsround?
I grew up watching Newsround religiously. It was part of the make-up of coming home from school and watching it, as back then there wasn’t lots of channels to choose from. For me it was the only programme out of most of the content on CBBC that I felt was relatable and something that I could connect with.
I really felt that Newsround spoke to me and told me what was going on in the world in a way that I could relate to and connect with. I guess it always felt like a safe space for me and hopefully that’s why it is still relevant today.
What does a typical day entail at Newsround?
It has changed an awful lot since I started at Newsround. The focus and the emphasis were very much on the bulletins we had throughout the day especially the key bulletin we had on BBC1, and that’s obviously changed as viewing habits have changed.
We don’t come to the morning meeting now to discuss what we should be doing as a report for TV, instead we have meetings throughout the day, starting from 6am, to discuss the bulletin but also the website and editorial. If it is something that I have been assigned to, I will go away and think of ideas and think of ways to make it relatable for a younger audience.
What areas of the news do you like reporting on the most?
The big areas for me are social media, latest trends and topics in the playground that children are interested in. I’m also really keen on consumer affairs, especially things like gaming. A lot of children can get into trouble with running up huge amounts of costs because they are not savvy with them.
What has been your favourite memory so far at Newsround?
Meeting Prince William! He was such an incredible person. We did a story with him and took a cancer patient called Alice who was getting treatment at The Royal Marsden Hospital, which his mother was president of and William is now too. We thought it would be a lovely idea to get Alice to meet him and so we went to Kensington Palace and it was just us in a room with him and a camera team – it was so relaxed and informal. Prince William even told us how he used to watch Newsround as a child!
Have you ever been star struck when interviewing someone famous?
This is something that I’m not proud to admit at all but I still watch Neighbours and we had Jackie Woodburne, who plays the character Susan Kennedy in the soap, on the show. I was about to get married and asked whether she would be part of the wedding video and she said yes! I was totally star struck with that!
Have you always wanted to be a reporter/presenter?
Yes. When I was young, I used to sit in my bedroom and make pretend front covers of magazines and newspapers. I even used to pretend I had my own radio show and would record myself interviewing people.
Like I said earlier, I used to watch Newsround and it was a dream for me to fill the shoes of the likes of Krishnan Guru-Murthy, Julie Etchingham and Lizo Mzimba, as you used to see them getting such great access.
What is the best thing about your job?
The best thing about my job is being one of the first to find something out. We’re very lucky in this job to normally get the information before our audience has heard it first. Having that responsibility means we have to work out the best way to impart that information for our audience.
Also, I love meeting our audience and meeting children in schools because that is sometimes where we find out our stories. It’s not always easy to find out what kids are interested in unless you are talking to parents, teachers or you have children yourself.
Newsround has announced some exciting new changes, how will this benefit children and schools?
Newsround is going to be available for more children in more ways. Newsround is now on CBBC in the morning for an eight-minute-long bulletin which is longer than it has ever been before. This means we’re packing it with more stories and more analysis by using some of the brilliant BBC journalists that are at our disposal to explain to us what is happening around the world.
The most exciting thing is that teachers can use the morning bulletin as a tool to engage with their class and spark debate. Around 750,000 children are watching the bulletin in schools during term time which is huge!
When something terrible happens, for example terrorist attacks, teachers turn to us because they sometimes struggle to explain in a sensitive manner what’s happened and they can rely on us to do that.
What advice would you give to children who want to become a presenter/news reporter?
The best advice is to start young and to start writing, or if writing is not your thing then create videos and vlogs. Talk or write about stories you’re interested in, don’t just do stories because you think it is important. Look at the area around you, perhaps talk to neighbours or to people who you can get some great information out of – look into stories that haven’t been touched upon before.
Journalists are all a little bit nosey! We all want to know what is going on so I think it’s good to appear interested and ready to listen.