Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) is concerned about the poor portrayal of a child in a story published by Daily Sun, entitled “Fire destroyed my son’s face” (05/04/2011, p.5) and the accompanying picture. The article therefore gets a MAD.
The story is about the 14-year-old boy whose face was burnt five years ago when he fell into a fire after having an epileptic fit while sitting near a fireplace.
MMA’s first concern is a quote included in the article from the mother which says “it hurts me to see children crying and running away from my child thinking that he is a monster”.
MMA believes that Daily Sun should have opted to use a quote that would have portrayed the child in a positive manner other than the one used above. This quote instead sensationalised the story by portraying the child as a creature and victim.
Daily Sun failed to consider the social exclusion that the boy has been subjected to as a result of his condition. By using a quote that refers to him as monster, Daily Sun perpetuates labelling rather than portraying the child in an empowering manner.
MMA’s second concern is the picture published alongside the article. By publishing the picture with the child along with the mother’s quote, Daily Sun has neglected minimizing the harm done to the boy as the picture may lead to further labelling and social exclusion.
Daily Sun could’ve adopted a more positive approach and published a picture of the mother by herself instead of showing the child’s burnt face which the article implies does not look good. It states that she (the mother) is appealing to the public, “to help her son regain his good looks.”
MMA is aware that the story and the picture may have been published with good intentions to help the boy, however Daily Sun should have protected the boy and considered what is in his best interest, while trying to help him.