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A majority of children who watch television news or read newspapers say that media stories depicting children typically involve violence or drugs, according to a survey.

The nationwide survey of 850 children, done for the California-based advocacy group Children Now, found that 65 percent of children ages 11 to 16 watch television news regularly, and 44 percent read a newspaper.

Sixty-one percent of the children who follow the news said the image of children they see portrayed usually involves crime or drugs. Nearly three-fourths said they want the media to cover more positive stories about children.

Respondents said that news organizations do not understand young people and do not do a good job covering such issues as teenage sex and pregnancy. However, 80 percent said news coverage is basically fair, and 65 percent said that without coverage by the news media, people would do less to help children in trouble.

The survey was released in conjunction with a national conference on children and the news media held last week in Palo Alto, Calif.

For more information, call or write Children Now, 1212 Broadway, Suite 530, Oakland, Calif. 94612; (510) 763-2444.

C-SPAN plans to telecast complete historical re-enactments of the famous Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858.

The cable public-affairs channel said the re-enactments will be staged, starting this summer, by the seven Illinois communities where ex-U.S. Rep. Abraham Lincoln and incumbent U.S. Sen. Stephen A. Douglas, as part of the battle for Douglas's Senate seat, held what many historians consider to be the most famous rhetorical exhanges in American political history.

Local residents will play the debaters and other roles as C-SPAN cameras capture the debates as though they were filming a modern-day campaign event. The debates will follow a schedule similar to that of the original debates, which started Aug. 21, 1858, in Ottawa, Ill., and ended on Oct. 15 in Alton. The re-enactments will be shown on weekend days near the original dates. The first telecast is set for Aug. 21.

C-SPAN is preparing free lesson plans for teachers and handouts of primary-source materials for students.

Brian Lamb, C-SPAN's chief executive officer, said the telecasts were inspired by his interview last year with the Lincoln scholar Harold Holzer, the author of The Lincoln-Douglas Debates: The First Complete Unexpurgated Text.
--MARK WALSH

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