For Youth Day on 16 June 2009 The Star undertook a novel project to have children write on the Confederations Cup. In the Youth Day edition of the newspaper, the project took the front page, in the article “Budding reporters were on the ball” by Jabulile Ngwenya, which included a quote from one of the children. The stories, under the headline “Confederations Cup: Ke nako for SA youth”, were published in the paper, taking up a full page (16/06/09, p. 8). This initiative got them nominated for a MAD OAT Glad award.
Children often feature as the subjects of news when dramatic and terrible evens happen. Their images are often used to demonstrate the horror of events. Although this practice can arguably serve to show the dramatic nature of events and to generate action, it also tends to portray children as passive victims. Media Monitoring Africa (MMA)1 has found that this kind of coverage accounts for a substantial amount of coverage of children in the media (MMP 20042 )
It is within this context that The Star , in commemoration of the Sharpeville Massacre, chose to allow children to write on their perspectives of the Confederations Cup. In this way, rather than being represented as passive, silent victims, children are recognised as active, capable, vocal citizens.
By featuring the initiative on the front page, and being given a whole page in the newspaper for their articles, the children’s voices are given prominence by The Star. The children are also given space for blogs and photographs on the website (http://blogs.iol.co.za/starblogz/).
The articles are from variety of perspectives and make interesting reading. The stories show how children can have interesting perspectives on current events, and how they can be mainstreamed into media coverage.
We look forward to more of these initiatives from The Star and other newspapers, throughout the year.
1 Formerly Media Monitoring Project.
2 Daya, B., Vreenegoor, B., Bird, W. & Harries, G. 2004.
Children: Dying to Make the News: An analysis of children’s coverage in the South African news media Media Monitoring Project: Johannesburg.