Children’s Views not in the News; Portrayal of Children in South African Print Media 2010

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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.

Read the report.

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