Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) embarked on a media monitoring exercise between May and
September, 2020 to determine trends in media coverage of children. In order to show improvement in media coverage or the lack thereof, the 2020 findings were compared against the 2016, 2017 and 2019 findings.The components that were monitored were how much the media reported on children in terms of adequacy, the geographical origin of these stories, what the stories were about, whether children spoke in these, the gender representation as well as the quality of information in these stories. Further, the promotion or violation of children’s rights to freedom of expression, participation, privacy and dignity was also monitored in addition to checking whether coverage was in the best interest of children. The findings and analysis culminated into this report are being launched today.

The implications of coverage were also monitored and questions such as what is likely to happen if children are not seen or heard in coverage of them were explored. Further, a question as to whether the Covid-19 pandemic had impacted, if at all it had, how the media reported on children in the year 2020, was also explored.

William Bird, MMA’s Director had this to say, “One of the most important lessons we can draw from the Covid-19 crisis is to ensure we look after our most vulnerable and marginalised. Children are frequently the ones who experience the most adverse and harmful effects of tragedies and disasters. Children are the ones who are most at risk from violence, from food insecurity and having their basic rights to privacy, dignity and education violated and denied.  One of the key roles of media in a democratic society is to afflict the comfortable and give comfort to the afflicted.”

In 2016, findings from that year’s media monitoring exercise revealed that children featured in only 6% of all stories in the media and only spoke in 12% of them. In terms of portrayal, the finding was that children were largely portrayed in coverage as just children without any specific role attached to them at 38%. Have these trends continued or have the media heeded the advice of MMA on what they should and should not do when it comes to reporting on children?

“It sounds easy to say media don’t do this, but that would be to deny the reality that our journalism
is also under threat, that like every other sector they too have been under huge pressure and
exposed to significant risk.  But that doesn’t mean their responsibilities fade – but it does help us
understand some of the trends of our latest media monitoring looking into how children are
reported in the media,” says Bird.

MMA invites the media and the public to read the analysis which can be accessed on our website
and shared on our organisation’s social media pages ( Facebook and Twitter).

Download the report here


For enquiries, please contact Lister Namumba, the Monitoring, Research and Analysis Program
Manager by sending an email to