Children were portrayed in incredibly positive ways as Daily Sun showcased four brilliant young South Africans excelling in their fields. Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) is therefore delighted to award Daily Sun and its journalists a GLAD[1] for their refreshing child-centred coverage.

The first story, “Young karateka dreams big after earning black belt!” (15/11/2018, p.37), by Tshifhiwa Luvhengo, reports about 15-year-old Ayakha Qhomfo who is an award-winning karateka. The young karate practitioner recently graduated to a black belt, the highest level in karate. The article shares how she is working towards taking part in the World Championships in Germany in 2020. The story not only accesses young Qhomfo extensively about her experiences in training but it also reports on her dreams for the future, including how she wants to open her own karate training school. The article also details her many achievements. For example, it describes the number of medals she has won at different tournaments around the world, and reports that she “has collected medals in almost every karate event she has taken part in”. Qhomfo is portrayed as a young woman with agency and power. Even the opening sentence, “She is only 15 years old but already commands respect”, speaks to her independence, passion and skill.

In “Reading turns girls into champions” (15/11/2018, p.23), journalist Kopano Monaheng writes about Haantebale Ratau, who is a young bookworm and spelling bee competition winner. Ratau shares how she borrows books from her local library every week and that “now she adores books more than anything else”. This report indicates how her love of reading and self-motivation spurred her onto victory in the City of Ekurhuleni’s spelling bee competition. Importantly, too, the story highlights how her school work improved dramatically and that her teachers and parents are proud of all her achievements.

In the third article, Armando Chikhudo tells the story of Tenda Singo, who won the Voov 100kSchool Challenge in “Short video was all pupil needed to win big” (16/11/2018, p.24). The 17-year-old won the competition when she entered her video of learners doing a traditional dance. Singo shares her surprise at having won and that her R50 000 winnings will be used to pay for her tuition fees. The story also accesses Singo’s school principal who speaks of his delight and pride in this Limpopo-based learner who also won an extra R50 000 for her school. Young Singo is portrayed as tech-savvy and innovative and the accompanying photograph also showcases happy wide smiles from both the young winner and her principal.

Finally, in “‘Zulu was so easy!’” (16/11/2018, p.4), journalist Zimbili Vilakazi accesses pupils from Klwana Combined School in Kwa-Zulu Natal about their final matric Zulu exam paper. Sixteen-year-old Linda Hadebe shares that they “had enough time for revision” and how him and his colleagues gave the paper “serious attention”. In Hadebe’s voice, the article highlights how some learners may have been laidback in their approach to their home language exam, but that Hadebe and his colleagues had put in the hard work required for success. He was expecting a distinction for the paper.

All the four stories are accompanied by bright photographs of the children involved.

Across all four stories highlighted here, the children are portrayed as ambitious and self-motivated young people who are willing to work hard to achieve their dreams, and achieve them they do. These children are also from a broad range of disciplines, ages and backgrounds, and this diversity sets a refreshingly positive tone of how children regularly set to achieve magnificent things regardless of their circumstance.

Importantly, that the children were also all afforded the opportunity to speak and to hear these tales of success in the children’s own voices fundamentally enriches the quality, texture and value of all the stories. Accessing children in this way is not only beneficial to the children and the reader, but also ensures that principles around children’s opinions and freedom of expression, as seen in Articles 12 and 13 of United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC),[2] are upheld and strengthened.

For this, we applaud Daily Sun and the four journalists for going above and beyond to source stories about young people, to access them and to portray them as agents of innovation, passion and talent. We look forward to reading many more stories like these!

By Sarah Findlay

[1] A GLAD is awarded to journalists for portraying children positively, celebrating their achievements and for accessing them on their views.