Children must be interviewed too on important issues that affect them when it is in their best interest. Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) gives News24 a Missed Opportunity[1] for failing to give children a voice in a story about children.  The article, “New Covid-19 Board game to teach children prevention protocols” (21/08/2021) failed to give children a voice on an issue that needed their views thereby missing an opportunity for a great story.

The article is about a board game that is being introduced to Western Cape schools to teach children safety tips about Covid-19. The game is designed for young children so that they can also play a role in curbing the spread of the virus. According to the story, the game is also meant to encourage children to read and learn through play.

In the story, the journalist accesses the district municipality and a curriculum advisor but not the children who are the central focus of this story. This, despite the children being present in the accompanying image. The photograph of learners which has their names in the caption shows them playing the board game.

Failing to include children’s voices to this story is against MMA’s Editorial Guidelines and Principles for Reporting on Children in the Media[2] which state, “Children have the right to have their views heard on matters that affect them, [therefore, media should] try and include them.”

A child’s right to freedom of expression as enshrined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of Children (ACRWC)[3] in articles 3 and 7 respectively, is one of the most important rights that should be respected and promoted not only by government departments, schools and society, but by media as well.

MMA’s 2020 media monitoring results on reporting on children[4] reveal that only 7% of children’s voices were heard between May and September, 2020 in media coverage of them. This article is a great example of how the media continue to neglect children’s voices and rather prefer the opinions of adults. This does not only violate children’s rights to freedom of speech and participation but also perpetuates the stereotype that children are not important enough to be heard.

We urge News24 to continue reporting on stories about children but to ensure that the children are afforded an opportunity to express their views when it is in those children’s best interests. 

Written by Girlie Sibanda

Edited by Lister Namumba

[1] A missed opportunity is a story in which children were not accessed when they should have been

[2] (See page 3)