“The story has been well reported because the journalist did not mention the parents’ names or the child’s name and also because they gave her freedom of speech” *
Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) rarely comes across news articles which dedicate the majority of their stories to the voices of children and the issues that concern them. Therefore, it was refreshing to read an article in The Times, “Jane fends for her family”(21/05/2012, p.5), where a child with the pseudonym “Jane” spoke of her life experience as a child with parental responsibilities to her siblings and missing out on a “normal” childhood.
It is because of this level of attention and voice given to this child in such a responsible way and a clear effort to bring attention to issues affecting children that MMA is awarding The Times a GLAD.1
MMA commends The Times for dedicating significant space, in the same edition, to exploring issues relating to children as revealed in a recent report released by UNICEF on the state of South African children. Substantial coverage was given to issues affecting children such as poverty, hunger, malnutrition, HIV/AIDS, TB, child breadwinners and many others.
Not only did The Times manage to link the life experience of Jane to a bigger issue of national importance, that of poverty, but she was also portrayed in a positive light. The news report therefore, tackled sensitive issues without violating the rights to dignity and privacy of the child.
Jane’s resolution and passion is inspiring not only to children but to those who have potential to change the situation for children with similar circumstances. The Times quoted her saying that “I want to be happy. I just want to be a normal child. I want to go to school. I want to play with my friends.” Her voice is a voice we rarely hear, her strength is the kind of strength, AIDS child activist Nkosi Johnson possessed that we hardly see being represented in the media. Children are history makers, their lives matter and their voice should certainly be heard.
Well done to The Times and to Graeme Hosken for writing such a GLAD-deserving news article.
*Comment by a group of Monitors from Naturena Primary School
*Drawing by Babalwa Silver, a Grade 7 Media Monitor from Naturena Primary
1. A Glad is a story deemed the best of the week from all large Johannesburg-based newspapers (excluding community).↩