Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) would like to commend Sowetan for the publication’s story, “Ambitious Nthathile sets sights on the bigger stage” (03/07/2018, p.9) for accessing the child involved.

The story, written by Karabo Ledwaba is about eight-year old Nthathile Mofokeng from Naledi in Soweto who is a cyclist and has recently completed a 35-kilometre race held in Mamelodi. Nthathile, who is portrayed positively in the story as an active sportsperson is quoted saying, “Riding my bicycle makes me feel so good … When I cycle [,] I can spend time with my brother and learn from him.”  The story is accompanied by a photograph showing Nthathile riding his bicycle.

By affording the child an opportunity to speak in the article, Sowetan adhered to Articles 12 and 13 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC),[1] which South Africa ratified in 1995. Further, accessing the child for her views enriched the story with her perspective as well as let her exercise her right to freedom of expression.

Sowetan also adhered to MMA’s Editorial Guidelines and Principles for Reporting on Children in the Media by portraying the child positively and as an active sportsperson. The Guidelines advise reporters to always strive to “challenge negative stereotypes about children and conventional roles children occupy in the media (such as helpless victims) whenever [they] can. Negative stereotypes about children … are particularly harmful for children … Children’s achievements will also be given due recognition in the media.”[2]

MMA encourages Sowetan to continue providing children space in the publication to shine and to continue accessing them when in their best interest. We hope to see more of such stories in the media.

By Musa Rikhotso  



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