Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) is giving a GLAD[1] to both the Saturday Star and TimesLIVE for the publications’ stellar reporting on and portrayal of children standing up and speaking up about the killing of Nathaniel Julies, an Eldorado teenager reportedly killed by police.

The Saturday Star’s image that is part of an article titled, “ELDOS RESIDENTS ‘FED UP’” (29/08/20, p.1) shows children protesting against the killing of Julies. The image’s caption reads, “CHILDREN from Eldorado Park, south-west of Joburg, protest outside the police station following the death of 16-year-old Nathaniel Julies, inset, who was shot by police on Thursday. Nathaniel had Down syndrome…”

The photograph taken by Bhekikhaya Mabaso portrays the children as active citizens using their agency to speak up against an ill involving a child. This is a clear illustration of how children can speak up for themselves and make their voices heard in media coverage of issues facing them. The fact that the photograph does not include any adult shows that the Saturday Star seemingly wanted the focus to be on the children. In the photograph, the children stand peacefully with some wearing their masks. Some of their placards read, “# Coloured lives matter” and “# Justice for Nathaniel”.

TimesLIVE’s article titled, “Children living with Down syndrome call for justice for murdered teen Natheniël Julies” (02/09/20) reports on the same issue and includes a video of children carrying posters calling for justice for the killing of their peer, another child living with Down syndrome. The article is written by Lwandile Bhengu.

According to media coverage, Nathaniel Julies was a 16-year-old living in Eldorado Park who was killed by police. Since this incidence, the community in Eldorado Park has been protesting and even asking for the total shutdown of the police station involved. Usually in such coverage, the media tend to focus mainly on the voices of adults but in these articles, the journalists went against the norm and featured children taking part in protests and adding their voice. This is exceedingly important since the subject of the protest is a child therefore, it is commendable that the Saturday Star and TimesLIVE made sure that children feature in the coverage and express their views..

The inclusion of the video of children to the TimesLIVE article is of utmost importance because it amplified the children’s voice in the media, especially on issues that affect their well-being and safety.  This is reinforced by MMA’s Editorial Guidelines and Principles for Reporting on Children in the Media[2] which state that “children have a right to have their views heard on matters that affect them, so [media should] try and include them”.

Noteworthy is also the fact that that TimesLIVE included views from children living with a disability, again going against the norm observed by MMA where media coverage of children excludes views from such children.

MMA congratulates the Saturday Star and TimesLIVE for reporting that promotes children’s rights to participation and speech and positively portrays the children involved as active citizens speaking up against an ill facing them. We would like to encourage the Saturday Star and TimesLIVE to continue reporting on stories about children and afford the children opportunities to make their voices heard when in the children’s best interest.

By Jacques Ndong

[1] GLADs are awarded to media for reporting on children responsibly and for accessing them