Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) gives a Missed Opportunity[1] to The Guardian for an article titled, “Jacinda Ardern holds special coronavirus press conference for children” that failed to access the children at its centre. The story, which was also published by The Star on its website, was published on 19 March, 2020.

The article, inspired by the current corona virus pandemic is about New Zealand’s Prime Minister who held a special press conference just for children to reportedly make them understand the pandemic and, what to do to stay safe. While the story is positive, it was published without any child’s voice.

The article quotes the Prime Minister’s Instagram post stating, “Kids ask a lot of questions most of the time, and right now they understandably have plenty [of questions] about Covid-19.” This suggests that the Prime Minister is aware that children are not passive citizens, but have a sense of urgency and a role to play in combating the spread of the virus.

While we applaud the effort of The Guardian on a rare piece of reporting which shows interest in children during this time, we cannot help but criticise the lack of children’s voices in the story. In addition, the fact that the article is positive should have made The Guardian consider children’s views and perspectives about the press conference and Covid-19.

According to MMA’s media monitoring findings, children’s voices are few in the news at 8.2 percent.[2] This significantly low percentage shows that the media needs to give childrenopportunities to talk about issues that affect them. Apart from that, failure to access children directly violates the children’s right to speak as supported by Article 13 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC)[3] which South Africa ratified in 1995.

MMA encourages The Guardian and the media as a whole to continue highlighting the challenges posed by the coronavirus. This particular article is highly commended as it raises awareness about the role of children and what they need to stay safe during this pandemic. We just implore the media to include children’s voices when in their best interest. 

By Ntsako Manganyi

[1] A Missed Opportunity is given when a positive story is missing children’s voices