Resources - Get Mad/Glad

Rights of celebrities’ children protected

27 March 2017

Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) gives a GLAD1  to

for two articles by Julia Madibogo in which the identities of children involved in sensitive issues were protected directly and indirectly.

The first article, “Jozi celeb at war with ex” (13/02/2017, p.3) tells the story of a television and radio personality who is involved in a bitter parenting fight with the father of her child. It is reported that the woman allegedly does not want to allow the man to have access to the child. The article reports that the man has gone to lawyers and the process to serve the woman with court papers is underway. Neither the child nor the parents are identified.

Similarly, the second article titled “Ex-fiancée sabotaged me” (21/02/2017, p.3) reports of a couple fighting over a child. Unlike the first article above where only the mother is famous, both parents in this story are celebrities. It is reported that the woman has allegedly repeatedly prevented the man from spending time with his child.  Just like in the first article, the child’s identity is protected.

Stories involving people in the public eye are often used to maximize sales of newspapers and in many cases we find these stories on the front pages bearing all the details of the children involved. It is applauded when the journalists take extra caution to withhold the identities of children involved in such stories.  We commend Julia Madibogo for not publishing the children’s identities or those of their parents, for not revealing any information that could lead to the identification of the children, and for even going as further as explaining why the names were withheld.

Protecting the identities of children involved in such stories does not only protect the children’s right to privacy and dignity but also prevents potential abuse from befalling the children.

By reporting the stories in the manner in which they were reported, the journalist adhered to Editorial Guidelines and Principles for Reporting on Children in the Media2  developed by MMA with input from children, editors and journalists. 

The journalist also adhered to Section 36 of the Maintenance Act 99 of 1998sup>3  which states that:
“No person shall publish in any manner whatsoever the name or address of any person under the age of 18 years who is or was involved in any proceedings at a maintenance enquiry or the name of his or her school or any other information likely to reveal the identity of that person”.

Well done Sowetan for showing that it is possible to report on stories of celebrities’ children without sensationalising them as such children have rights too that they need to enjoy! MMA hopes that this will be a standard practice for the publication and other media.

By Ntsako Manganyi

1.A GLAD is given when a journalist reports on a story involving a child responsibly

The following is the response by Sowetan to the commentary

Reporting on matters involving children with famous parents is a bit tricky. You need to think of the children but also the pressure on publishing names is always rife because celebrity names always sell news. Fortunately here at Sowetan we are always reminded of ethics by our editors and responsible journalism is above everything.