Children should be interviewed too in media stories about them to hear their views when it is in their best interest. Failure to do so makes the media miss an opportunity to portray them as citizens who also have an opinion on issues that affect them. This failure was observed in an article by Daily Sun for which Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) dubbed a missed opportunity.[1] The article titled, “Miss SA Shudufadzo gives back to youth” (28/02/2021) failed to give children a voice on an issue that is about them thereby missing an opportunity for a great story.

This article is about Miss South Africa, Shudufadzo Musinda who donated items at Khayalethu Youth Centre in Port Elizabeth. This was reportedly the beginning of her mental awareness campaign and part of the Broadwalk Back to School program. Essentials such as blankets, sanitizers and shoes were donated to the children to meet their needs as they get back to school. Musinda reveals in the article that doing this gave her joy as she was playing her role which is to serve the community.

In this story, the journalist only accesses Shudufadzo and not the children who were the beneficiaries of this donation. She is quoted saying, “l think it’s not just important to do this here but all over the country. As for me personally l love to live a life of service”.

The story is missing children’s voices despite it being accompanied by a beautiful image of four children who are seen receiving the donation.

 This is against MMA’s Editorial Guidelines for Reporting on Children in the Media[i] which state that, “children have the right to have their views heard on matters that affect them, [therefore, media should] try and include them”.

According to the 2020 media monitoring results on reporting on children[ii] by MMA, only 7% of children’s voices were heard in the media between May and September 2020. This article is a great example on how the media continues to shun children’s voices and rather prefer the opinions of the children’s parents, teachers or any adult present. This not only infringes on the rights to speech and participation of the children but also helps perpetuate the stereotype that children are not important enough to be heard.

This is concerning and we urge Daily Sun and other media to refrain from neglecting children’s voices and participation but rather to provide platforms and actually interview children for their perspectives on matters that affect them, especially  when reporting on positive issues that involve the children.

By Girlie Sibanda

[1] A missed opportunity is a story in which children were not accessed when they should have been.

[i] (See page 3)

[ii] (See page 16)

The following is Daily Sun’s response to the commentary;

When reporting on children Daily Sun always strives to get permission from their parents to enable us to talk with the children about issues. In this incident the writer did not include the children’s voices. We acknowledge that we will strive to do better in future.