Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) congratulates Talk Radio 702 for protecting a child’s identity in a sensitive matter and making sure that his best interest is of paramount importance.
The podcast titled,” Parktown Boys High Tragedy Volume 3: an eyewitness account of a grade 8 learner, (“22/01/2020) which aired live on the,” The Eusebius McKaiser Show is awarded GLAD  by MMA. The radio station ticked all the correct boxes to protect the identity of the child eyewitness and making sure that the interview was done in a manner that was in his best interest.
The segment of the show was about a statement given by a grade 8 learner following the death of Enoch Mpianzi who drowned during a school orientation camp. The learner gave an account of the events that led to the fellow pupil’s death and how the school handled the situation .He also reveals how the teachers ignored their cries when they noticed that Enoch was missing.
Taking into account the high sensitivity of this issue the radio station made sure that the identity of the eyewitness is protected. The station did not use his real name in the statement but rather a pseudonym as this could put his life at risk. His identity was further protected by not using his real voice in the statement. The station used one of their male employees to read out the statement on behalf of the child.
Talk Radio 702 acted in the best interest of the child eyewitness by making sure that his identity is protected. This is in line with MMA’s Editorial Guidelines and Principles for reporting on Children in the Media which advices journalists to “always hide the child’s identity where the child might be at risk”.
It is important for MMA and the media in general to acknowledge good practice in news reporting as demonstrated by Eusebius and his team. They have given a platform to a young person to give an account of an important event and issue that affects him and other children who were present when the incident occurred. The radio station upheld his human right to freedom of expression, which is also outlined in MMA’s Editorial guidelines on reporting on children that is, “Children have a right to have their views heard on matters that affect them”.
One of the most remarkable display of great ethical journalism was when the host explained in detail what the station did to get consent for the interview. The process included getting consent from the witness and his parents as well as involving the parents of the victim. They also invited a psychologist to the interview; the presence of an expert was needed to make sure that the child can be supported emotionally and to minimise secondary trauma. The expert was also there to give the child counselling as he had to relive the tragic events as he was giving his statement. According to MMA’s Editorial Guidelines and principles on Reporting on children,” When writing a story on children ask those who work with them, or those who are experts on the issue, about potential consequences of telling their story. By involving a psychologist, the station made sure that the child is protected from further trauma.
Media Monitoring Africa would like to encourage the radio station to continue with this level of ethical reporting and we challenge the rest of the media to follow Talk Radio 702’s example.
By Girlie Sibanda
 A GLAD is awarded when journalists report positively on a child and respect the rights of that child