Most news organizations have their own dedicated “correspondents,” people that report on specific subjects or areas. Examples can be a “Sports” correspondents, “Middle East” correspondents, or “Global Health” correspondents. Even though you have correspondents on all these subjects, there is not usually a correspondent on the subject of children. Tako Rietveld, a journalist and reporter, noticed this and decided to start becoming one himself. This is how he started “De Kindercorrespondent,” trying to involve children more into news and politics.
It all started in 2014 when he still worked at NOS’s Jeugdjournaal, a Dutch TV show that aims to make the news understandable for children. As a reporter there he noticed a lack of input from children in most news media. “Every time there was a story concerning children, they had adults talking about the children, instead of just directly asking them,” Rietveld says. This is most likely the case because most reporters are specialized in their own subject, which is not always related to children. “It can be very tough to interview children, especially younger ones. When you ask them something, 9 times out of 10 you will get a short answer like ‘yes’ or ‘no’. It is definitely something you have to learn,” Rietveld says.
This is why he felt the need to start a movement that specializes in interviewing children and involving them more in the news and politics. He started out by trying to set it up within NOS at first. “I had it all prepared. I made a plan and I was ready to execute it with the people I worked with,” Rietveld says. Unfortunately, NOS did not share his vision. The broadcasting agency said that there was no available budget and that his plan did not fall within the responsibilities of the public broadcasting system. Tako was not just going to give up his dream like this, though. “When I was working on my plan I really put my soul into it. I didn’t want to give that up. That is why I decided to quit my job,” Rietveld says.
After quitting his Job, Rietveld started setting up his new organization “De Kindercorrespondent”. However, he quickly discovered that setting something up from scratch can be harder than it seems. “Before I quit, I had all these people that were saying they wanted to support me, but in the end, only a few remained,” Rietveld says. It took a few years to get the organization up and running, but after finding funding and partnering up with a passionate team of people, “De Kindercorrespondent” is now fully operational and releases content on a weekly basis.
When asked about some of his most memorable moment interviewing children, he said the following, “I was born with only one hand. This is something that can be kind of awkward to some people as they think it is something they can’t bring up or something. For kids, this is very different. A lot of the children I have met immediately notice it, and they tell me so. They start asking questions about how it got like that and how it works. Children are way quicker at pointing out the elephant in the room.”
“At the moment, I’m the only children’s correspondent around, but that won’t be for long,” Rietveld says. He is hoping to expand his organization to other countries like the US and China. All this stems from his bigger dream, which is to let children from across the world be heard. This would certainly be a large task to fulfill, and it will take some time. If anyone will succeed in giving children a voice, though, it would be Tako Rietveld.