Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) recently hosted a landmark series of events to commemorate Black Wednesday (19 October 1977) and to applaud those in the sector that have been pushing boundaries to maintain and deepen quality ethical journalism. Recognising that media freedom should not just be a concern to media houses or journalists, each webinar is open to the public and saw an exquisite line-up of panelists from across the sector, including experts, academics and journalists, sharing their views and insights.


Children vision for the our media future!

On the 26th of  October 2020, Media Monitoring Africa launched their Media Freedom festivities with a bang! Hosted via Zoom webinar, the panel discussion zeroed in on children and the media. Facilitated by journalist Joanne Joseph, she highlighted that reporting on children is a topic that is important and must be discussed in the media.

“Stories about children have gradually increased from 6% in 2016 to 13% in 2020. In terms of
numbers, the figures for 2020 translate to 1, 710 stories on children out of 12, 693 stories gathered
during monitoring period.” – Lister Namumba

Two child media monitors presented their views on the reporting of children in the media and what they vision for the future media!

“I think that it is important that children get the required coverage in the media, so having only 13 % coverage of children in the media , I think that we are making headway and we are slowly getting to where we can have more children in the news but I don’t think its enough. We have to build it especially for positive stories and not only talking about negative stories. There are so many children in the country that are doing amazing things and helping communities in South Africa” – Kabir Budlender (learner).

Sudeshan Reddy, Communications Specialist, UNICEF South Africa, started the panel discussion by stated “young people and children are a diversity as the rest of the society and their voices should be heard.” He further emphasised that children’s nutrition and school feeding remains a challenge for many children as many depend on this schemes for daily nutrition , the media need to look into this issues.

Aralynn McMane, Director of Global Youth and News Media, referenced how South Africa is not alone in challenges of media coverage of children, many other countries are facing challenges too however, South Africa is ahead of many of them thanks to Media Monitoring Africa and their Madoat programme together with their Isu Elihle Awards. She further highlighted how internationally children are mostly viewed as victims and teenagers viewed as problems however we need to focus on what they do and not only the problems.

Tshamano Makhadi, SANEF chairperson for Education and Training Committee, spoke about how children are portrayed as victims and how we need to improve the way we have been reporting on children, “Covid-19 played a role in increasing children’s voices because of the impact it had on education”

Thomas Bwire, journalist and former Isu Elihle Awards winner said “we hear less voices when reporting about children from journalists, journalists need to look at the experience of a child before rushing into doing interviews”, which highlighted the importance of adding children’s voices to matters that concern them but only in their best interest.

“Digital and Online are not fixtures they change constantly and enormously and we need to ensure we keep up or all the power lies with the providers of the tech” – Jarred Cinman, CEO of VMLY&R South Africa, ended of the webinar with giving the audience a glimpse of what the future media will look like.