Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) gives neither a MAD nor GLAD to The Star for its story involving a child author and activist who was reportedly nominated to receive the International Children’s Peace Prize 2020. This is because the journalist behind this story failed to give a voice to the child thereby missing an opportunity to highlight children’s views in what could have potentially been a great article.
“Joburg author Stacey Fru, 13, shortlisted for international award” (The Star, 28/10/2020) reports on a Johannesburg-based “literary child whizz”, 13-year-old Stacey Fru who has been shortlisted for the International Children’s Peace Prize 2020 from among a reported 142 entrants from 42 countries. According to the article, Stacey has written and published five books and has won more than 20 international and national awards and recognitions. She has reportedly been nominated for the Peace Prize for being at the forefront championing literacy, safety and security for African children for the past five years.
A bright photograph showing a smiling Stacey accompanies the article.
It is concerning that despite the fact that this story is reporting on a positive development in the life of a 13-year old, her voice is not included. By failing to access her for her views on the nomination, The Star has missed an opportunity to promote her right to expression and participation in the news. This goes against best practice when it comes to reporting on children especially practice that calls for the inclusion of children’s views to news about them when in their best interests.
The 2020 media monitoring results shows that only 7% of stories on children had children’s voices, indicating that most coverage of children, whether positive or otherwise, is done without children’s voices.
The Star’s failure to include the child’s views to the story violates the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of Children (ACRWC) articles 13 and 7 respectively, both of which South Africa ratified.
MMA urges The Star to continue reporting on stories about children but to ensure that the children are also afforded an opportunity to express their views.
By Musa Rikhotso
 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