Children must always be interviewed in media stories about them especially if they are directly involved in the issue being reported. Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) gives GroundUp a Missed Opportunity[1]for failing to include children’s voices in an article where the children take centre stage in activism.

The article titled, “Hundreds march to Parliament, calling for action against climate change” (24/09/2022) is about hundreds of people marching to Parliament to champion  actions against climate change. The protesters are mostly children from different schools as shown in accompanying photographs. In one of the pictures, a big group of children can be seen holding a banner with the words, “Youth unite against climate change”.

Throughout the article, the journalist interviews different activists and organisers of the protest. The children who play a big role in the protest are not interviewed or quoted.  

In 2020, MMA published a report on media’s coverage of climate change and one of the findings was that young activists also organised climate change protests which can be said to have played a key role in increasing the coverage of climate change in the media. Such a finding demonstrates that young people are well involved in the cause and therefore journalists should include their voices when reporting on climate change.

Furthermore, MMA’s 2021 media monitoring results on reporting on children reveal that only 7% of children’s voices were heard between May and September 2021 in media coverage of them. This is how the media is neglecting children’s voices and rather preferring the opinions of adults even in issues children are directly involved in or issues facing the children. This does not only violate children’s rights to freedom of speech and participation but also perpetuates the stereotype that children’s voices are not important enough to be heard.

We urge GroundUp to continue reporting on stories in which children are activists because they are well aware of societal challenges but to ensure that the children are given the chance to express their views, especially when it is in those children’s best interests. 

Written by Jacques Ndong

Edited by Lister Namumba

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