Daily Sun and IOL missed an opportunity for great stories because they failed to give children a voice in stories that involve the children.
Daily Sun’s article, “Kasi parents risk life for EDUCATION!” (23/04/2022) is about parents in Nelson Mandela Bay who have to wake up early in the morning, with some having to wake up as early as midnight, to go and queue on behalf of their children who rely on government scholar transport to go to school. The story mentions that there are limited buses for the children therefore some children end up not going to school because of the shortage.
The story above fails to give a voice to the children affected by the scholar transport. MMA is of the view that if the media are going to report stories that have a central focus on children, then the children must be extensively quoted to share their perspectives. Of course, this must be done only when it is in the children’s best interest to speak. In the Daily Sun story above, it was in the children’s best interests to share their views especially that this story directly affects their right to education and the failure by duty bearers to ensure the children can easily access this.
The IOL story is titled, “City of Cape Town concerned about state of school transport” (22/04/2022) and is about the state of scholar transport in Cape Town. The City of Cape Town conducted checks on several vehicles and drivers that transport scholars and found out that many cars are not roadworthy and that some of the drivers are unlicensed.
Just like Daily Sun, IOL also fails to give pupils a voice in the story despite it being about an issue that directly affects their well-being and safety.
The failure to include children’s voices to stories about the children when it is in their best interests goes against best journalism practice when it comes to reporting on 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.”
It is noted that Daily Sun and IOL are not the only media that neglect to include children’s voices in stories about issues that affect the children. According to MMA’s 2021 research, only 7% of stories about children accessed children for their views in 2021.
MMA urges both Daily Sun and IOL to continue reporting on stories about children and their well-being but to ensure that children are afforded an opportunity to express their views, feelings and experiences.
Written by Musa Rikhotso
Edited by Lister Namumba
The following is Daily Sun’s response to the commentary;
Point taken. I guess we zoomed in more on the troubles that the parents had to go through in order to ensure the education of their young ones and neglected to solicit the feelings of the children themselves.