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OF, BY AND FOR THE CHILDREN

Today's headlines get a youthful interpretation from 'News for Kids' staff

September 20, 1992|N.F. MENDOZA | Times Staff Writer

"The show is really for kids not about kids," emphasized 14-year-old Tania Mendoza, Los Angeles bureau chief of News for Kids. "On the regular news, they use a lot of big words and we're left hanging. We interview people who we think know what's happening and break it down for kids to understand."

Tania is one of five adolescent bureau chiefs who report for the show. The other correspondents are in Atlanta, Boston, San Fransico and Washington. "News for Kids" is produced for cable's TBS, but it is also airing on local channels, including KNBC, KTLA and KNSD.

Some of the issues Tania will cover include gang relations, drugs and AIDS; her first story was to go to South-Central to interview L.A. riot victims.

"There was a lot of sadness there," she said. "There was still a lot of racism and tension and we got yelled at a lot because we had a news crew. Not everyone wanted to talk to me."

The optimistic young woman said she soon discovered another side to the story. "We saw stores being rebuilt and we saw a lot of people--Asians, blacks and Hispanics working together. It was neat how they where able to do that."

It is this human aspect that Tania hopes to capture when she covers other issues, most notably, the gang situation.

"I want to find out how they feel down inside," she said. "That might be a little risky right now, the hostilities between all the different Hispanic gangs and black gangs, but I want to find out about the people, not just the group and what they do."

Another important issue she hopes to explore is the environment, specifically the Santa Monica Bay. "I want to show how polluted our waters are, how our streets are messed up--and how kids' groups can help clean it all up."

The half-hour "News for Kids" premieres Saturday at 5:30 a.m. KNBC, 6:30 a.m. KNSD , 7 a.m. KTLA, 6:05 a.m.; Sept. 27 on TBS. For ages 6 and up.

MORE FAMILY SHOWS

Disney's Young Musicians Symphony Orchestra (Sunday noon-1 p.m. Disney Channel) is a profile of 65 musicians, all under 12, who spent a week in music camp working with composers John Williams and Henry Mancini (who will act as guest conductor for the concert). For ages 6 and up .

The new Nickelodeon G.U.T.S. (Sunday, Saturday 5:30-6 p.m. Nickelodeon) features larger-than-life physical stunts by youths in an Olympic atmosphere, with sports coverage. For ages 8-14.

This season, the ecologically inclined Captain Planet and the Planeteers (Saturdays 2:30-3 p.m. USA; Sundays 2:35-3:35 p.m. TBS; Monday through Friday 3:30-4 p.m. TNT; 6:30-7 a.m., 11:30 a.m.-noon KNSD) will encounter his scariest nemesis yet: AIDS and ignorance about it. Elizabeth Taylor will guest as the voice of the mother of a teen-ager who finds he is HIV-positive. When misinformation spreads about AIDS, it is up to the mother, Captain Planet and his Planeteers to educate. For ages 5-12 .

If there can be evil-fighting teen turtles, how about evil-fighting teen dinos? The new animated series The Adventures of T-Rex (Monday-Friday 8-8:30 a.m. KCOP, 3-3:30 p.m. KUSI) is set in Rep City, the megalopolis of an Art Deco dinosaur world. T-Rex is the identity of "The Brothers," five dinosaur siblings who headline at the city's top cabaret and reluctantly go undercover to thwart evil. For ages 3-11.

For those with aspirations to really act in the the-a-thuh, "A&E Stage" presents Living Shakespeare: A Year With the RSC (Tuesday 10-11 p.m. A&E), profiling the 30th year of the Royal Shakespeare Company, focusing on four different actors with varying levels of experience. For ages 13 and up.

Journey to Spirit Island (Wednesday 1-2:45 p.m. Disney Channel) tells the story of a 13-year-old Native American girl who learns a developer is attempting to turn the island into a resort; it is up to the girl and her friends to warn their tribe. For ages 10 and up.

The new animated series Toxic Crusaders (Saturday 10:30-11 a.m. USA) is about a group of environmental heroes, hideously deformed creatures of superhuman size and strength who fight for Tromaville, the only unpolluted town in the country. For ages 3-11.

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