Media Monitoring Africa (MMA), in partnership with UNICEF South Africa, launched the ‘Reporting on Children in the Media Course’ at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg today.
The accredited journalism course brings together 20 practicing reporters, from a range of media agencies, on a virtual journey through 16 interactive seminars that aim to deepen their reporting skills in the best interest of children. The course also includes a number of open and free sessions for journalists, or interested persons, to login, with the final assessment taking place on 04 September.
“I am excited to be engaging with the journalists during the course and I am sure we are going to have very robust conversations on how to report on children’s law, to balance reporting and to ensure children’s well-being and protection while reporting on their issues,” said Zita Hansungule, Senior Project Coordinator at the Centre for Child Law, and one of the course experts.
The media play a vital role in telling untold stories and shining a spotlight on issues affecting children that can in-turn mobilize the whole of society to respond
“We are delighted to be supporting this innovative reporting on children media course,” said Christine Muhigana, UNICEF South Africa Representative. “The media play a vital role in telling untold stories and shining a spotlight on issues affecting children that can in-turn mobilize the whole of society to respond,” Muhigana added.
The COVID-19 pandemic has further highlighted the critical importance of media in giving a voice to children and young people who can all too often be forgotten in public discourse.
The course, in exploring how children are represented, will work with journalists to develop new skills and to demonstrate how children’s rights can be respected in the media, whilst ensuring journalism of the highest quality. Journalists will be challenged to question the common representation of children and their issues, as well as open their outlook to new possibilities for alternative representations.
The analysis of media coverage of children, conducted by Media Monitoring Africa in 2020, indicated that coverage of children increased between 2016 and 2020, from 6 to 13 per cent of all stories.
“The increase in coverage of children’s stories shows progress, but it is not enough,” said Kabir Budlender, a youth Web Rangers SA Ambassador. “Children and young people need to be covered in a respectful manner that gives us a voice, is consistent and balances the challenges we face with positive stories,” Budlender added.
The partnership between Media Monitoring Africa and UNICEF South Africa also includes the Isu Elihle Journalism Awards, the commissioning of a research paper on reporting on children in South Africa, as well as support to the Web Rangers programme that promotes positive online experiences among youth.