iMediaEthics previously wrote about the media being criticized for reporting on children in India and South Africa. We wrote to Media Monitoring Africa, which had reported that South African children had asked the South African press council to “stop violating” them.” Media Monitoring Africa’s director, William Bird, responded to iMediaEthics e-mail inquiry and passed on the children’s submission to the press council (see here).
The submission explained that Media Monitoring Africa, an “independent NGO that has been monitoring the news media since 1993,” has had since 2003 a grouping of children’s projects called Empowering Children and the Media (ECM). Included in that project is Children’s Media Monitoring Project (CMMP).
Through that program, “children from local schools keep a close eye on the media and do daily media monitoring on the representation of children.”
The children reportedly stated that they “enjoy reading about other children’s achievements” in the media, and that the media should report “missing children” stories to help locate those children.
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But, they criticized the news media because as they see it, “the majority of stories are about child victims rather than heroes.” And, the victims are often identifiable. “The children also feel that the portrayal of children is very stereotypical and limited.”
As a result of the children’s input, Media Monitoring Africa suggested that the press code be amended in add a section pertaining to children, defining children as under 18 years old. Some of the suggested clauses include:
- “avoid stereotyping and stigmatising children or sensationalizing stories about them”
- don’t publish “sexualised images of children”
- don’t identify a child’s “HIV status unless there are exceptional circumstances and informed consent”
- “protecting the identity of child soldiers, asylum seekers, refugees or displaced people.”
Read the whole report and suggestions here