An overwhelming majority of journalists say that press freedom has deteriorated in China1 with government continuing to tighten its grip on information. However, when a nation’s most outspoken journalists are 11-year-olds, it is a good sign for the future as they might grow up to ask probing questions.

Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) awards a GLAD2 to an article by The New Age which tells the story of young, brave journalists who challenged their country’s leaders. “Child journos grill Communist Party bigwigs” (14/11/2012, p.21) by Agence France-Press(AFP), reports on two children from the Beijing-based Chinese Teenagers News who took center stage at the 18th Chinese Communist Party Congress when they bucked tradition to ask officials smart, acute and straightforward questions.

Zhang Jiahe and Sun Luyuan raised questions of rising housing costs and food safety respectively. The article quotes Zhang, who told a minister that rising accommodation costs had an impact on disposable income, including that for toys. The agency describes how the young reporters have “become a minor media sensation by highlighting hot-button issues that typically make authorities squirm”.

It is important that children’s rights to freedom of speech, expression and association, the freedom of thought and consciousness are recognised3 and this is encapsulated in this article.

This kind of reporting is also in line with Media Monitoring Africa’s Editorial Guidelines and Principles for Reporting on Children in the Media.4 These reporting techniques encourage journalists to aim to give children a voice in the media and “play a positive role in portraying children and their rights and therefore support better attitudes and opinions about children.”

We congratulate both The New Age and AFP for reporting on this story.

1. Rosa Trieu,2012. “Hongkongers’ Press Freedom Threatened By China’s Creeping Influence.” Forbes. Available online:
2. Media Monitoring Africa’s Make Abuse Disappear Online Accountability Tool (MAD OAT) highlights cases of good practice, where the media has promoted the rights and welfare of children, otherwise referred to as GLADs.
3. Humanium Children’s Rights Portal available on
4. See Editorial Guidelines and Principles for Reporting on Children in the Media, available on

In response to the commentary AFP’s news editor for Southern Africa, Andrew Beatty said:

“Thanks, I have forwarded it on to the Hong Kong bureau, where I think the piece was written.”