Every child has a voice that needs to be heard by the world. At Media Monitoring Africa (MMA), we encourage journalists to include children’s voices, more especially if they are featured in positive articles involving them or children in general. We need to allow children to express their views and opinions rightfully because children have voices and should have a say in things and activities concerning them. When they are given a platform to speak, it enhances their confidence and self-esteem and builds their decision-making skills. Additionally, children should speak in stories about them simply because they have and need to exercise their right to freedom of expression.
Because Daily Sun failed to access children in two of its articles, MMA gives the publication a Missed Opportunity.
“Cyril to kids: Tell the world your stories!” (18/07/2019) reports on President Cyril Ramaphosa’s visit to the Red Cross Hospital in Cape Town. This was part of his 67 minutes for Mandela, a call to action for South Africans to “engage in charitable activities that echo the life that Mandela lived, and do at least 67 minutes of good”. According to the article, the president spent time and spoke to children at RX Radio, the Red Cross Children’s hospital radio.
While we applaud Daily Sun for including a great picture to the article showing the children with President Cyril Ramaphosa, we cannot help but be concerned that no child speaks in the article. The fact that the article is positive and reports about children doing something positive (leading a hospital radio) should have made Daily Sun add the children’s views and perspectives to the article. The article reports that “RX Radio is the first ever hospital radio station for children which is also led by children”. Additionally, the headline should have compelled the publication to let children “tell the world [their] stories” by quoting them about their views and thoughts.
In the article, “Gogo leaves kids smiling” (19/07/2019, p.8), we see children in the accompanying picture and read about them in the article but we do not hear them speak. The story reports on “Gogo” Cynthia Motau who celebrated her 63rd birthday with children at the Sinothando Daycare Centre in Alexandra, Johannesburg. It would have been great to hear what the children think about spending their day with “Gogo” on her birthday.
Both articles show children in a positive way but none included quotes from the children. This flouted the Editorial Guidelines and Principles for Reporting on Children in the Media which advise media saying, “Children have a right to have their views heard on matters that affect them, so try and include them.”
MMA encourages reporters to show initiative when reporting on children and include their voices when they are being featured in positive articles. We look forward to hearing children speak in such stories in future.
By Baatile Mohale
 A Missed Opportunity is given when a positive story is missing children’s voices
The following is Daily Sun‘s response to the commentary;
Daily Sun acknowledges the missed opportunities in the stories cited. Please note that in future we will always endeavour to improve on our coverage to affirm and acknowledge children to speak in their own stories.