Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) awards a GLAD to Daily Sun for the article, “Gontse poses double threat” (03/10/2018, p.21) in which the achievements of a child who was accessed for her views, were highlighted and celebrated.
The journalist, Kgomotso Sethusha reports on Gontse Morake, a 16-year-old athlete from Gauteng North preparing for the 2018 Youth Olympic Games to be held in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Kgomotso Sethusha gives the child a voice and lets her express her struggle choosing between two sports events: the 400m hurdles and the triple jump to participate in at the Olympics.
The child is quoted saying, “Honestly, it’s the hardest question ever. I love both events equally […] I’ve been discouraged by some people from doing both events, and to focus on the 400m hurdles, but I really trust my coach […] who knows how to coach both events perfectly, so I want to excel in both.”
The article does not only focus on Gontse’s struggle to decide but also highlights her past sports achievements and her resolve to not miss out on school during the Games so that her education is not affected. The article reports that the matric pupil will carry her books with her so as to study. A powerful picture of the teenager jumping over a hurdle during a sports competition is used to illustrate the story.
MMA commends the journalist for writing this positive story that empowers children and for accessing the child and quoting her many times. Reporting the article in this manner is in accordance with MMA’s Editorial Guidelines and Principles for Reporting on Children in the Media  because it challenges the negative stereotypes about children and the roles they occupy in the media and, also because it recognises children’s achievements in the media. MMA’s research shows that children often occupy negative roles such as helpless victims or just as children without any agency in coverage about them.
We also would like to commend the journalist for accessing the child for her views. MMA believes that it is important for children to speak for themselves because they need to share their experiences and perspectives. In addition, when children see their peers speaking in media, they will begin to understand that they matter and might feel empowered to speak for themselves in matters affecting them.
We applaud Daily Sun for this inspiring and empowering story that assigns positive roles to children where they can see themselves as achievers and encourage them to perform well in the activities they are passionate about. We feel that the article could be very inspiring for other children.
MMA encourages Daily Sun and other media to continue reporting on children this way and to access them.
By Baatile Mohale, Grace Obiang and Melissa Bensiali-Hadaud
GLADs refer to articles where the rights and welfare of children have been promoted