Children: Seldom Seen and Hardly Ever Heard in South Africa’s Media

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They make up 39% of the population
They are mentioned in just 12.7% of articles
We hear their voices in just 2% of stories

Why are children’s views not in the news?

Find out in Media Monitoring Africa (MMA)’s latest report: “Children’s Views not in the News; Portrayal of Children in South African Print Media: June, July and August 2010”

MMA has been monitoring and analysing print media’s performance, in terms of how it reports on children, since 2003. This is its fourth report on the topic, and since 2003 the percentage of articles featuring children has doubled.

Author and MMA’s Specialised Children’s Monitoring Project Coordinator Ronell Singh says that “while we are seeing gradual progress being made in how the media reports on children, there is still plenty of room for improvement – look at how few features or in-depth analysis articles deal with children for example – just 4%. It is these longer and more in depth articles that can better explore children’s issues and put them on the agenda, and yet, even since last year, we are seeing children appearing in fewer of these articles instead of more.”

Ethics

MMA has also revised and further refined its criteria to assess whether media has violated children’s rights and it has found that from June to August 2010, the press perpetuated children’s rights abuses in 7% of stories featuring or mentioning children. George Kalu, MMA’s Children’s Project Coordinator, says that “even one report in which a child’s rights are violated is one to many, that it happens in 7% of stories that mention children is very worrying indeed. These are cases where children are identified when it is not in their best interests, say for example, when children are victims of abuse or are HIV positive. Naming a child in these circumstances leaves them vulnerable to further trauma and possible stigmatisation.”

Media Ratings

However it is clear that some media are performing better than others. In MMA’s media ratings for children’s coverage, in which newspapers are rated against each other in order to show which cover children the best, Saturday Star came in first place.

Press Code

As part of its Press Council Review submission, MMA has recommended that reporting on children be regulated under the Press Code. William Bird, Director or MMA, says that “currently children are only mentioned once in the code, under Section 1.7.2 which states that “child pornography shall not be published.” This is clearly not enough. The inclusion of a dedicated clause on children is essential.”

Children are also lobbying for regulations on how they are reported in the press to be included in the code. Child media monitors, involved in an MMA project, presented their suggestions on the Redi Thlabi Show on Talk Radio 702 and Cape talk 567 on 30 November 2010.

Launch of: “Children’s Views not in the News; Portrayal of Children in South African Print Media: June, July and August 2010″
Place: Independent Newspapers, The Star Building, 47 Sauer Street, Johannesburg City Centre, 2001
Time: 3pm, Monday 6 December 2010

The report will also be available on MMA’s website www.mediamonitoringafrica.org

For more information contact:

William Bird
Director
Media Monitoring Africa
Ashoka & Linc Fellow
Tel: +27 (0)11788 1278
Cell: +27 82 887 1370
williamb@mma.org.za

or

Ronell Singh
Specialised Children’s Monitoring Project Coordinator
Media Monitoring Africa
Tel: +27 (0) 11 788 1278
Cell: +27 (0) 11 82 8285747
ronells@mma.org.za

or

George Kalu
Children’s Project Coordinator
Media Monitoring Africa
Tel: +27 (0) 11 788 1278
Cell: +27 (0)11 83 684699
georgek@mma.org.za

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