Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) grants Sowetan & SowetanLive a Glad for its great reporting on children’s issues. The journalists followed the right procedures by hiding the identity of a child victim and allowing children to tell their own story by giving them a voice.
The first article , “Learners get their way after protest” by Patience Bambalele, (02/03/2020) is about learners from Parktown High School for Girls who held a protest to have their issues heard by the Minister of environmental, forestry and fisheries. They are involved in environmental projects and wanted to address the fact that the government is not doing enough to educate the public about environmental issues. These learners boycotted classes as a way of getting the Minister’s attention but she still failed to address their concerns over environmental issues.
In the article, the journalist accessed learners about their encounter with the Minister. By so doing, he made sure their voices are heard. They were allowed to share their views on an important issue that affects them. One of the learners said,” We want to be part of the initiation process of the policymaking because this is our future”. The journalist was in line with the MMA’s Editorial guidelines on reporting on children which states that ,” Children have a right to have their views heard on matters that affect them, so try and include them”
The second article published by SowetanLive (09/03/2020), “Trauma as boy loses finger during scuffle at school”) is about a 12-year-old boy who lost his finger at a school in Pretoria. This incident happened during break time when other leaners closed the classroom door on his finger. This resulted to his finger breaking in half and the doctors could not save it. The boy’s father is planning to press charges against the involved learners.
The journalist protected the identity of the child in the article; he states that, “the father who cannot be named to protect his son’s identity”. Indirect identification of the child was avoided by not naming his father.
To protect the child further the journalist published an image of the boy with his face blurred. It is important for journalists to protect the identity of children in circumstances such as this, especially if there is a possibility of the issue becoming a criminal matter. In this case, the boy’s father is planning to press charges against the learners. By withholding the victim’s identity his dignity and wellbeing was respected. The journalist acted in line with MMA editorial guidelines for reporting on children in the media which states that,” Always respect children’s dignity and well-being.
We look forward to seeing more reporting in which journalists from Sowetan and other Medias follow the correct guidelines when reporting on children.
By Girlie Sibanda
 Every week Monday, MMA highlights cases of good practice, where the media has promoted the rights and welfare of children, they are referred to as “GLADs”, as well as instances where the rights and welfare of children have been compromised through irresponsible media coverage, referred to as “MADs”