The image published beside an article in the City Press entitled “ANC woos poor whites with gifts”(08/05/2011, pg. 4) has been awarded a MADOAT MAD by Media Monitoring Africa.
The introduction of the story talks about “poor white residents”. Consequently, this gives the reader the impression that the child – a white boy – depicted in the picture is one of these poor residents. This was not in the child’s best interests as it indirectly labelled him and could result in him feeling embarrassed or stigmatised.
The heading of another article below the picture refers to President Jacob Zuma as the “ANC poster boy” however it was placed next to the boy in the picture. That the heading is directly next to the picture creates confusion and also implies that the child is in fact the “ANC poster boy”.
The child also looks vulnerable in the way he is portrayed as he had his hands over his ears and was wearing a long, oversized ANC t-shirt.
MMA’s Editorial Guidelines and Principles on Reporting on Children advise media professionals to, “try to avoid images that stereotype children (and)…strive to find alternative angles and images.”
To use children and the vulnerable to further one’s political benefit or to create a “shock effect” in the newspaper is unsavoury. MMA would like to stress that it is the responsibility of the media to ensure that vulnerable groups in our society, including children, are not further exploited in what appears to be political ploys to garner support during electioneering campaigns.
In portraying this child and his community as needy and dependent, City Press neglected its ethical responsibility to protect their dignity.