Daily Sun disregards children’s privacy
Children’s right to privacy is important and should always be valued by all, more so the media when reporting about children. Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) is concerned about an article from Daily Sun that reveals the identity of children who were receiving a donation. The language in the story is also concerning, therefore MMA gives Daily Sun a MAD[i]
The article titled “AMAKHOSI donate uniform to kids”. (Daily Sun, 21/01/23). Reports on a school uniforms donation from AMAKHOSI, a traditional council in Tshwane. Despite the story reporting on something positive, journalism ethics are put into question when terms such as “poor”, “poorest”, “disadvantaged” are used in the article- this on top of failing to protect the privacy of the children who are the recepients.
Section 28.2 of the Bill of Rights in the South African Constitution says: “A child’s best interests are of paramount importance in every matter concerning the child.”[ii] Reporting and portraying the children involved in the story as “poor” is not in their best interests as these children become targets for potential victimisation and discrimination.
The article continues to give a direct quote from the departmental head at Kodumela, mentioning that “Our children are the poorest in the district”. Such language used in the article is worrying, as it is disempowering and further marginalises children involved.
That the children are also identified including through pictures is also against the child best interest principle as these children, who deserve to have their privacy and dignity respected, are identified as recipients of the donation because they are “poor” or “poorest”. Here, the journalist ignored the fact that the children might be discriminated, stigmatised or victimised.
There are more creative ways that the journalist could have reported the story and one of them is withholding the identities of the children and their parents. Here, the journalist could have taken the photos and hidden the children’s faces and those of their parents. Additionally, the journalist could have reported the story and replaced terms such as “poor” with less harming terms such as ….
Whilst we commend Daily Sun and the journalist for bringing awareness on the role played by Amakhosi for empowering the community and assisting children with school uniform. We ask that in future, this is done with caution and reported in a way that minimises harm, including potential harm to the children involved.
MMA is kindly requesting Daily Sun to blur the pictures of the children and their parents and to also withdraw the names of the children and their parents. Here, Daily Sun can instead use pseudonyms. In addition, Daily Sun needs to provide an explanation to the readers as to why the article had to be altered.
Written by Ntombifuthi Kubeka
Edited by Lister Namumba
[i] A MAD is given to media outlets that irresponsibly report on children.