Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) gives neither a MAD nor a GLAD to Daily Sun for its story involving a child. Despite the article reporting on a child’s outstanding achievement and opportunity, the journalist behind the story failed to give a voice to the child to tell her story. This is a missed opportunity for a great story that could have been achieved by adding the child’s views to the story thereby enriching it with her perspectives.
“Oratilwe needs your help” (Daily Sun, 21/05/2019, p.21) reports on Oratilwe Selamolela, a 16-year-old grade 11 hockey player from Dawn Park who has been selected to take part in a hockey tournament in the Netherlands in September, 2019. However, Oratilwe needs R43 000 to cover her travelling costs as reported by the article. Oratilwe’s mother is quoted several times in the article speaking about how excited she is about her daughter’s achievement and how she as the mother is stressing about the travel costs.
“Even though she [Oratilwe] loves hockey, she’s able to maintain the balance between her school work and the sport. I’d be grateful if a good Samaritan [comes forward] to help cover my daughter’s travelling costs,” the mother is quoted saying.
The article narrates very well how the mother is planning to raise funds for the trip [on top of calling for a good Samaritan]. She says in the article that she will wash cars. While the child’s mother is extensively quoted in the article, nowhere is Oratilwe quoted.
It is unfortunate that such a good story about a child is told without the child’s perspective. This being a very important and positive story about the achievement of a child excelling in sport, the journalist should have accessed her. By failing to access the child for her views, Daily Sun violated her right to freedom of expression that is enshrined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). South Africa ratified the UNCRC in 1995.
This goes against best practice when it comes to reporting on children, including MMA’s Editorial Guidelines and Principles for Reporting on Children in the Media. The Guidelines advise journalists to access children saying, “Children have a right to have their views heard on matters that affect them, so try and include them.”
The Guidelines also encourage journalists to challenge all negative stereotypes about children especially the ones that suggest that children are passive members of society.
MMA urges Daily Sun to continue reporting on stories about children and afford the children an opportunity to express their views on issues that affect them especially when in their best interest.
By Ntsako Manganyi
 MADs refer to stories where the rights and welfare of children have been compromised through irresponsible media coverage
 A GLAD is an article where the rights and welfare of children have been protected
 A missed opportunity is a story in which children were not accessed for their views when they could have been