The Children’s Media Foundation (CMF)

In Conversation with: Alison Stewart

 

Alison Stewart, Children’s Media Consultant, Executive Producer and Writer - now a member of the CMF Board and Executive Group - shares with us her childhood memories of children's media, her views on the world of children's media, and vision for the future of CMF.

 

 

What is your earliest memory of children’s media? 

AS: 'Watch With Mother' at age 3. My favourite show was 'The Woodentops', and 'Junior Choice' on the radio every Saturday morning.

How did you first get involved in with The Children’s Media Foundation? What is your role? 

AS: I have been a member of the Children’s Media Conference Advisory Group for over 10 years and have of course been aware of the work of the CMF at the Conference, and its wider work in support of children’s media. During my career, I have worked in all areas of children’s media production, both at the BBC and as a freelancer, so the importance of providing the highest quality content for our young audience is in my DNA! I was delighted when Anna Home invited me to join the CMF Board, to help steer the organisation. I've also joined the CMF Executive Group, the volunteers who carry out much of the work of the Foundation. My first role there is working on fundraising, as the Foundation relies entirely on donations for its finances. 

CMF plays a major role in keeping children and young people safe, informed and culturally nourished. Furthermore, it works tirelessly to ensure the many and diverse needs of the young audience are considered in public consultations on media matters. 

 

Why do you feel CMF matters? 

I see CMF as a gatekeeper for the wellbeing of children and young people as they access the ever-increasing amounts of media available to them.  

What do you do when you are not contributing to the work of CMF? What is a typical day for you?  

Since leaving the BBC, I’ve worked as a freelance children’s media consultant, development exec and writer, and I’m happy to say I don’t have a ‘typical day’! I’m also a trustee and community officer for a local Community Library and I manage all our activities and events. 

What hobbies are you involved with, and why do you enjoy them? 

I walk a lot, I sing in a choir, I’m teaching myself Spanish and I take acting classes, which I love.  I also love travelling and going to the theatre and can’t wait to start doing both those again soon! 

The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the trend for seeking digital environments in order to share human experiences. We’re hearing more and more about the Metaverse and in coming years children and adults alike will work, play, learn and interact socially in its ever-expanding virtual landscape.   

 

 

What was the most unusual or interesting job you’ve ever had? 

The most unusual - helping with the illusions on 'The Paul Daniels Magic Show', early in my BBC career.

What might newsletter readers be surprised to know about you?  

That from an early age I was prone to rather unusual accidents. By the age of three, I’d fallen from the top of a 15’ ladder, got my head stuck in the railings of Weston-super-Mare pier, and had my head trapped inside a pelican’s beak at Bristol Zoo!

 If you could be a character from a children’s programme, who would you be? 

Spotty Dog from 'The Woodentops' (see above). Or Sarah from 'Sarah and Duck'.

What do you think will change in the world of children’s media over the next 5 years? 

The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the trend for seeking digital environments in order to share human experiences. We’re hearing more and more about the Metaverse and in coming years children and adults alike will work, play, learn and interact socially in its ever-expanding virtual landscape.  

David Kleeman's article about the Metaverse in CMF's Future of Public Service Media series is a great exploration of the implications of this immersive media consumption.

In terms of linear viewing, global streaming platforms will continue to grow in reach and traditional broadcasters will struggle harder to make their brands discoverable. There will always be high quality children’s content available, but it’s critically important to ensure the continued provision of content which reflects the experience of children in their own communities and the places where they live.

What do you feel CMF is achieving? 

Through its advocacy on behalf of the children's audience, CMF plays a major role in keeping children and young people safe, informed and culturally nourished. Furthermore, it works tirelessly to ensure the many and diverse needs of the young audience are considered in public consultations on media matters. 

 What is your vision for the future of the CMF? 

I hope the CMF will play a major part in ensuring the future provision of media content that reflects and enriches the lives of all children and young people in this country.  They deserve the best we can give them, and their needs must not be ignored. 

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The Children’s Media Foundation (CMF)