Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) would like to commend Daily Sun for a series of articles on children that accessed and portrayed them positively and, highlighted important issues affecting children. While doing this, MMA would also like to bring to the publication’s attention a few articles that could have been reported better had certain ethics been adhered to. These articles were published in June, 2018.

The first piece for which MMA awards a GLAD[1] is a photograph of a child, a Jean-Christ of Riviera-Palmeraie in Abidjan, Ivory Coast with the caption, “’I will be the future Ronaldo!’” (12/06/2018, p.8). The photograph was selected as a GLAD for its positive portrayal of the child and also for the fact that Daily Sun allocated space to feature a child from another African country when few stories about such children are covered in South African media.[2]

The portrayal of children in media coverage of them is paramount as it influences how society views children and positive portrayal “support[s] better attitudes and opinions about children and their rights”.[3]

The article titled “Value books more than boys” (13/06/2018, p.16) reports on Injongo Primary School pupils in Khayelitsha, Cape Town. The school earned a spot at the Youth Citizen Action Program provincial leg by beating 12 schools with a topic on teenage pregnancy. According to the article, “each school had to choose something to teach people” in the competition. The program “empowers young people to become the next generation of leaders”. The article written by Buziwe Nocuze, is accompanied by a photograph of children listening to another child.

Two children were accessed in this article with one of them, 12-year-old Simosihle Twasile saying, “Girls, let’s love ourselves and put education first. The rest will follow. We have a lot of time to do grown-up things.”

Accessing children for their views in stories about them enriches the story with their perspective as well as lets them exercise their right to freedom of expression as enshrined in articles 12 and 7 of the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child (UNCRC)[4] and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of Children (ACRWC).[5]

Another article discussing teenage pregnancy is “Teen pregnancy ekasi is too high” (18/06/2018, p.2) by Christopher Moagi. This article was selected as a GLAD for raising a key issue affecting children, as were the following articles;

Other than analysing how children are portrayed in the media, MMA also monitors which topics relating to children are covered. This ensures the understanding of issues considered newsworthy. We always encourage the media to diversify their topic coverage to ensure all issues affecting children are given prominence. Daily Sun made an effort towards this by covering the different topics above in a space of nine days.

While we commend the publication for how it reports on the articles above, the ones that flouted ethics cannot be ignored.

Cop almost took my life!” (11/06/2018, p.5) which reports on a 17-year-old child who was allegedly shot by a policeman violated the Code of ethics and conduct for South African print and online media by interviewing her.

The article, “Cop bust for moering boy” (12/06/2018, p.5) also violated the Code by interviewing the child involved. The story reports on a nine-year-old boy who was allegedly beaten by a police officer in Ga-Rankuwa, Tshwane. 

Section 8.1.1 of the Code states, “[The media shall] exercise exceptional care and consideration when reporting about children. If there is any chance that coverage might cause harm of any kind to a child, he or she shall not be interviewed, photographed or identified without the consent of a legal guardian or of a similarly responsible adult and the child (taking into consideration the evolving capacity of the child), and a public interest is evident”.[6]

Interviewing children who have experienced trauma potentially causes them harm as they have to relive their traumatic ordeal. It also lengthens their healing process. MMA encourages media to only interview such children in the presence of a counsellor who has to gauge whether the children are well enough to be interviewed. Neither of the articles states whether a counsellor was present during the interview.  

Athletes kit out SA’s future leaders” which reports on an “athletics club” donating uniforms to school children and, “Our small gesture gives children hope” which reports on an investment club donating shoes to pupils perpetuate stereotypes about children by calling the children “needy” and “poor”. Both articles which were published on 13 June, 2018 on pages 17 and 18 respectively, are accompanied by photographs of children with the materials donated to them.

MMA’s Editorial Guidelines and Principles for Reporting on Children[7] advise the media to challenge stereotypes about children as they are harmful to children. The guidelines also advise journalists to exercise extreme caution when reporting on children whose circumstances make them vulnerable as not doing so might expose the children to humiliation. By showing their faces in the accompanying photographs, Daily Sun exposed the children to potential humiliation.

MMA urges Daily Sun to continue reporting on children and when in the children’s best interest, access them and, to adhere to ethics.

By Lister Namumba-Rikhotso


[1] GLADs are awarded to media for reporting on children responsibly and for accessing them

[2] (Page 17)

[3] (Page 4)