Daily Voice misses child’s voice

Media monitoring Africa (MMA) gives a Missed Opportunity[1] to Daily Voice for its article that celebrates the talent of an 11-year-old child but does not access her. By not accessing the child, Daily Voice missed an opportunity for a great story that would have been achieved by getting the child’s perspective on her newlydiscovered talent.

The article titled, “Water awesome girl! Cancer hasn’t beat ‘Natalie du Toit of Kraaifontein” (Daily Voice, 03/02/2023) reports on an 11-year-old girl, Zaarah Reid whose left leg had to be amputated after she was diagnosed with cancer. The article reports that the child is odds by choosing to become a swimmer which is a physically demanding sport.  According to the article, her coach is already comparing her swimming skills to South Africa Paralympic gold medallist, Natalie Du Toit.

While the article portrays the child positively and is accompanied by a bright picture of the child smiling, it does not include her views. The article reports on a positive issue involving a child should have made the journalist add of the child’s perspective. Doing so would have further added more value to the story and even possibly encouraged other children to not lose hope when in similar situations.

According to the 2021 media monitoring results on reporting on children[2] by MMA, only 7% of children’s voices are heard in media coverage of issues facing children. This article is a great example of how the media continues to shun children’s voices and rather prefer the opinions of adults. This not only infringes on the rights to speech and participation of the children but also helps perpetuate the stereotypes that children are passive citizens and cannot form a perspective about their surroundings.

Excluding children’s voices in media coverage of their issues especially when in the best interest of those children is against MMA’s Editorial Guidelines for Reporting on Children in the Media[3] which state, “Children have the right to have their views heard on matters that affect them, [therefore, media should] try and include them.”

The story also violates article 7 of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC)[4] which states, “Every child who is capable of communicating his or her own views shall be assured the rights to express his opinions freely in all matters and to disseminate his opinions subject to such restrictions as are prescribed by laws.” South Africa ratified the ACRWC in 2000.

Although Daily Voice is commended for the positive article about the child, reporters must make an effort to include children’s voices where it is in the best interest of the child to do so.

Written by Ntsako Manganyi

Edited by Ntombifuthi Kubeka

[1] A Missed Opportunity is given where a story would have made great reporting had all elements of best journalism practice been adhered to

[2] https://mediamonitoringafrica.org/wordpress22/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/Childrens-Report-2021.pdf

[3] https://mma-ecm.co.za/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/mma_editorial_guideline.pdf

[4] https://www.achpr.org/public/Document/file/English/achpr_instr_charterchild_eng.pdf