A group of children from a Johannesburg based primary school met a group of journalists from various media institutions attending a Reporting on Children course at Wits University last week. The children had a chance to interact and question journalists on how children are presented and represented in the media. The children are involved in media monitoring of children’s issues in different publications.
It was a no-hold bar session with children demanding answers from journalists on why there are very few stories or no stories at all about them and issues affecting them. Children also wanted to know what journalism entails and the requirements for one to be trained as a journalist.
Children complained to the journalists that all news especially from TV focused more on politicians since they are ‘big and powerful’, while there was very little on children in the media. They also voiced their concern on the publication of scary pictures at crime scenes and too many rape stories.
Here are some comments the children made regarding the handling of their issues in the media.
RT @Bhintsintsi: Kids question journos about the publication of gory pictures of crime scenes #kidsjourn
Journalists acknowledged their shortcomings with regards to their biased and lack of reporting on children’s issues. They agreed they were not doing enough to cover issues affecting children and agreed it was time to give children a voice and report on their issues positively.
RT @angiemubwanda: #kidsjourn what an enjoyable session! journos leant the hard way, promised to give kids a voice and include more stories abt them
The session was facilitated by a child expert Glenis Clacherty who shared with journalists some key principles when talking to children. She encouraged journalists to use different ways of communicating such as drawings and using maps when talking to children in order to get to the surface of children’s issues. She said some children find it difficult to communicate verbally or through writing, but are comfortable with drawing or mapping their experiences.Clacherty said games are also a good way of reaching out to children because they tend to relax and relate their experiences freely. Games also help reduce an elderly person’s power so it becomes easier to communicate with children and helps them construct a representation of their social world.