A child’s right to freedom of expression is one of the most important rights that should be respected and promoted not only by the government, schools and society but by the media as well. Such was not the case with News24 and Daily Sun as the two media failed to access children for their views in articles about the children.
The News24 story titled, “Schools are ready for full-time attendance – Minister Angie Motshekga” (06/02/2022) reports on learners returning to school full time. The story also talks about the readiness of the schools for the learners returning to schools across the country. That the story reports about issues such as lack of adequate infrastructure to ensure that the pupils are safe from Covid-19 should have made the journalist access children for their views. MMA believes that News24 should have sought the voices of children on what they think about returning to school full time during the pandemic and how they think this will affect or benefit them.
Daily Sun’s article titled, “Initiation: Back to the mountain!” (07/02/2022) reports on the return of the Ndebele initiation cultural practice after having previously been put on hold because of Covid-19. In the story, King Makhosonke II of the Ndebele people announces that the initiation season would commence in April. Just as is the case with News24, Daily Sun also neglected to get the voices of children to get their views on the return of the cultural practice and how the children feel about it.
The failure to include children’s voices goes against best journalism practice when it comes to reporting on children. MMA’s Ethical Guidelines and Principles for Reporting on Children in the Media advise journalists stating, “Children have a right to have their views heard on matters that affect them, so try and include them.”
While we acknowledge and commend the efforts by News24 and Daily Sun to report on issues affecting children, we submit that both media missed an opportunity for a great story, one enriched by children’s perspectives. Adding children’s views to stories about the children, especially when in their best interest is very important because it gives the reader a first-hand experience on what the children think about a particular issue and furthermore, it adds to diversity of views in the stories.
We encourage both media to continue to report on children and to find ways to include their voices in media coverage when it is in the children’s best interest.
Written by Musa Rikhotso
Edited by Lister Namumba