Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) commends the Daily Sun for its decision taken in relation to its front page story, “Kids set on fire”. Rather than choosing to carry a violent video Daily Sun opted to run with the story and presented a front page editorial explaining its decision. MMA is aware that this was not an easy decision and would like to encourage the Daily Sun and other media to continue to take considerable care in distributing videos that contain explicit and gratuitous violence. If they contain children even greater care should be taken.
In taking the decision not to upload the video, and in offering a front page editorial, not only does the Daily Sun show respect for the press code and protecting and promoting the rights of children concerned, but it also took its readers into its confidence, instead of just preaching to them. The commentary accompanying the story was also clear about the value that the video would have offered. It stated, “Sun readers don’t need to watch children being burned alive to understand the horror that took place in Sondela informal settlement, North West…When there is no justice, victims become criminals and criminals become victims.”
Violence is a huge problem in our society and we have seen communities taking the law into their own hands by killing perpetrators, however showing a video of such violence does not resolve the problem or empower society to deal with violence and crime, if anything it would further desensitize them. This video could have easily gone viral, with the Daily Sun gaining more traction and making more money, however, the Daily Sun took a decision that was in the best interests of the victims, their families and society at large. Daily Sun has excelled in the manner in which it handled this story.
MMA is also aware that the Daily Sun did not run with the story immediately after it happened. This also demonstrates that they took their time in assessing their decision. The mere fact that they also waited for the victims to be buried, before running the story shows that they indeed went all out to minimise harm for the family of the victims.
We applaud the Daily Sun for exercising the best interest of its readers and news subjects over eyes on screen and look forward to further examples of great ethical journalism.