News24 misses opportunity to hear from children

Deaf communities hardly feature in media coverage, more so deaf children. Further, children who are deaf hardly feature as sources in media coverage of any issue that generally affects children. When a journalist reports an issue directly related to children from the deaf community, including children’s views in such a story shows that the media is prepared to close the gap where the deaf community is neglected in media.  Unfortunately, News24 gets a Missed Opportunity[1] from Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) for not accessing star children in a positive article about an important issue that directly involves them.

The story receiving a Missed Opportunity is titled, “17 deaf matric pupils set to sign their names into history books” (31/10/2022). It reports on a group of learners in Mpumalanga who are set to become the first in the province to write their sign language examinations. Unfortunately, none of these children have been quoted in the article. This despite the fact that the article indicates that the journalist had access to them.

As this story is directly about the children and their education, the journalist should have included the children’s views in the story. The children would not only have exercised their rights to participate but would have also enriched the story with their perspectives. MMA understands that there might have been a challenge on the part of the journalist to interview these children but here, an interpreter could have been used to get views, thoughts and feelings about the subject from the children. Reporting on children has many hurdles and MMA commends journalists who take creative initiatives to report on children and get their views especially in positive stories about the children.  

MMA’s Ethical Guidelines and Principles for Reporting on Children in the Media advise journalists stating, “Children have a right to have their views heard on matters that affect them, so try and include them.” This includes all children whether deaf, blind or not.

MMA urges News24 to continue reporting on stories about children but to ensure that children are afforded an opportunity to express their views, feelings and experiences as long as doing so does not expose them to harm, including potential harm.

Written by Msizi Mzolo

Edited by Lister Namumba

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