January 30, 2008

ARTICLES: Journos need special skills to report on kids (SOUTH AFRICA)

Journos need special skills to report on kids
By: Issa Sikiti da Silva

Children are special and need protection. Journalists face significant challenges reporting on children – a daunting task that needs time, skills and ethical considerations, Media Monitoring Project (MMP) executive director William Bird told delegates who attended the workshop on reporting on the Children's Act, held late last week at Wits University in Johannesburg.

“As African media faces challenges such as attacks from Governments, commercial pressures and juniorisation of newsrooms, children's rights are violated as the media capitalises on their emotional impacts and powerful images to boost the sale of their products,” Bird said on Friday, 25 January 2008.

“In South Africa, children's stories tend to be negative and dramatic and their voices are seldom heard as there is a very limited representation of children in the news – 6% only.”

Must have a better understanding

However, any journalist reporting on children in SA must have a better understanding of the new Children's Act, a 300-section long, complicated but important and useful piece of legislation aimed at protecting children in a society where paedophiles, rapists and child traffickers roam the streets in the quest for vulnerable children and women.

“Let's learn to tell the children's stories right. The act is not as complicated as it seems, and you will have a better understanding of the Children's Act more than the Sexual Offences Act,” Dr Ann Skelton, of the Centre for Child Law, told delegates.


The workshop was co-hosted by the Centre for Child Law and supported by Save the Children of Sweden.

For more information, go to www.mediamonitoring.org.za, www.childlinesa.org.za and www.childlawsa.com.


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