June 15, 2006

TRAINING: Usak Hosts Children Rights Reporting Seminar (TURKEY)

Usak Hosts Children Rights Reporting Seminar

BİA² and UNICEF Turkey hold two-day Children Rights News Reporting training meeting in Usak on invitation of governor Kayhan Kavas. 26 reporters attend occasion where target is set to create Turkey's first child-friendly media network.

BIA News Center
06/06/2006    Kemal OZMEN

BİA (Usak) - The Children's Rights News Reporting training meeting organised jointly by the "Establishing a Countrywide Network in Turkey for Monitoring and Covering Media Freedom and Independent Journalism" BİA² project implemented by the IPS Communication Foundation and United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) was held on invitation of governor Kayhan Kavas between 3-4 June in Usak.

A total of 257 reporters from 62 provinces, including 83 women, have participated in similar training events organised jointly by BİA² and UNICEF Turkey between December 2005 and March 2006 in the provinces of Erzurum, Diyarbakir, Ankara, Mugla, Adana, Samsun abd Kocaeli.

The training events focusing on reporting on children's rights have so far hosted reporters from 127 newspapers, 14 news agencies 28 radio and 25 television stations and attracted participation from children rights activists, academic and students of communication faculties.

The training days that previously gathered regional journalists together this weekend saw a unification of reporters in Usak on a special invitation and initiative of the provincial governor Kavas who was previously a UNICEF advisory board member.

26 journalists working in the Usak press came together at the meeting at Agaoglu Hotel where discussions were held to reveal possibilities of creating a children-friendly media and increasing the participation of children in the media.

News people had the opportunity to relay personal experiences face to face citing past and current examples as Usak journalists agreed that children are not only the adults of the future, but individuals with certain rights within the society. It was commonly agreed that while children themselves were not "offenders", they were being pushed towards offending and in danger.

Reporters concluded during the two day training that while preparing news on children on together with children, far more attention needs to be paid to avoid violating the rights of the child and to respect the freedom of expression of children as well as their right to express views on issues that concern them. In order to achieve this, a target was set to create Turkey's first children-friendly media network in Usak.

Kavas: In-service training very important

Usak governot Kayhan Kavas said in his opening speech for the event that in-service seminars were always very important and that with this training the target was to enhance the procession and lives of the journalists involved.

Noting that Usak had stood as candidate for UNICEF's "Child Friendly City" project, Kavas explained that only eight provinces would be elected for the project in Turkey adding, "and we want Usak to be one of these. Because of this we want the Usak media to contribute to us and feel that training is important in this perspective".

Onat: Everyone responsible

On Saturday, Antalya Bar Association lawyer Yasemin Onat started the event with a presentation on "Children's Rights and News Reporting" where she covered and explained the Convention on Children's Rights and rights relating to the child as well as the use of the child in the media in new reports.

Onat explained that the United Nations (BM) convention guaranteed for fundamental rights to children which were the right to life, development, protection and participation.

Saying that there was a wide spread opinion that the whole responsibility of a child fell on his or her parents, Onat explained that the convention guaranteeing the rights of the child assigned responsibility to people other than parents as well, including those responsible for education, to workers of law and health sectors, the state institutions, to politics, the budget, the civilian society, the media and international organisations.

Onat said media itself, within the structure of overall responsibility, was the primary element in children accessing rights.

She added that legal concepts misused led to a justification of rights violations and said "according to the law, children under 18 cannot be questioned. Those under the age of 12 do not have a criminal responsibility, cannot be regarded as guilty".

In a subsequent workshop held by Onat under the title "The Role of the Press", participants analysed expectations of the children, their mothers, the society and media managers.

Tosun: News is not impartial

Ege University Faculty of Communication lecturer Dr. Gulgun Tosun explained in her presentation how children rights could and were being violated with examples of news reports stressing the need for journalists to create a child-friendly media.

Tosun argued that news itself by nature was not true or impartial and said then in cases where news reports replaced the truth, rights were being ignored.

The importance of a child-friendly media network, she said, was in the many purposes it would serve and listed among its important functions:

* Holding children rights on the agenda

* Exposing not the children but the processes violating their rights

* Correcting the wide spread image related to children

* Providing the participation of children in the media

* Protecting children from harmful influences

Tosun noted that a majority of news reports that violated children rights were based on the assumption that information provided by the police, security forces or administrative officials as being the only correct information and warned "the principle of balance in news reporting needs to be respected".

Koman: Principle of equals in participation

Çoluk Çocuk [Home Folks] magazine Editor Ezgi Koman delivered a presentation on "the Right of Participation of Children in the Media" where participation itself was described as taking part in the life of the society and becoming part of social life.

Koman, noting that the right to participation had first come up in the UN convention on children rights, said children and youth had the right to be in every process and activities that concerned them including issues and decisions. Koman said participation of children was not a privilege but a right and added that there should be the principle of equals between adults and children.

Ozmen: First off accept children as individuals

On the second day of the training UNICEF's Sema Hosta gave a presentation on correct informing on Bird Flue and issues that were important in the media coverage of this issue.

Following Hosta's presentation, BİA² Project Consultant Nadire Mater gave an explanation on the work of the project and the bianet site while BIA Children's Rights Editor Kemal Ozmen explained the children's site to participants.

Ozmen later on held a workshop titled "Following children rights violations in the media, reporting on children, interviewing children".

Ozmen listed the important points for journalists interviewing children:

* The child should be accepted as an independent individual

* The location should be a location of the child and not that of the journalist

* Consent should be received from the mother and father of the child

* Language used should be plain and understandable with short, clear questions

* Directing questions should not be asked

* Confidentiality of the child should be respected

* Questions reminding sufferings, raising negative emotions should not be asked

Before the workshop Ozmen spent time with other participants evaluating violations of children rights in the press in the case of a 16-year-old child caught in Trabzon province for killing the Santa Maria Church priest Andrea Santoro where his capture was reported on the front pages and under banner headlines of some newspapers.

At the end of the workshop participants divided in three groups and analysed children rights violations in the media based on chosen examples.

Following the two-day training event all participants concluded that it was an extremely beneficial session and that they would do their very best to put into practice the issues that were covered. (KO/II/YE)


Ibrahim Ethem Karahan, Nezihe Hatun Karahan (Usak's Yenigun Newspaper), Ahmet Bilge Ozkurt, Osman Kirhan, (Usak's Asrın Newspaper), Ali Rıza Durak (Anadolu Agency Usak Office), Alaettin Yakın (Usak's Yenigun newspaper), Yıldıray Camtepe (Olay newspaper), Salih Kilinc (Egem TV), Tufan Guven, Mehmet Ozdemircelik (ART TV, Radio), Yavuz Kusdemir (Dogan News Agency), Serap Kiraz (Banaz Dost FM), Yusuf Ucar (Gencliğin Sesi), Kadir Yesil (İhlas News Agency), Murat Ugur (Yeni Asır Newspaper), Senol Yesilova (Oz Ege TV), Melik Evren (Zaman Newspaper), Kazim Sen, Ali Erkin Sarıoglu (Yesil Banaz Newspaper), Sibel Salkım (Ses FM), Coskun Ozler (Usak Ilk Haber), Taskın Ozler (Usak Haber), Hulusi Dincer (Dunya Newspaper).
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