According to Media Monitoring Africa (MMA), only 6% of media stories feature children. This was revealed at the launch of the 2022 State of Children in South African Media Report in Johannesburg, on Wednesday.
For the past 20 years, MMA has been monitoring media coverage of children to ensure compliance with ethical and legal guidelines.
The report shows that media coverage of children has dropped from 10% in 2021 to 6% in 2022. It further reveals that 45% of the time children are covered as victims, 12% as learners, 3% as survivors, and 2% as missing children.
MMA Program Manager, Lister Namumba says, “There were many findings, not all of them were good. In fact, the majority were not good because we still had a 6% representation of children in the stories, which is very little. We still had 8% of children speaking in coverage. There is also a focus on negative issues.”
Figure 1 shows that only 6% of the stories monitored mentioned/involved
children. This means that in 2022, only 6% of all reported stories during the monitoring period reported on children.
— Media Matters (@MediaMattersZA) April 26, 2023
A 2022 monitoring activity examined child-related news items reported over a five-month period and discovered either improvement or a lack of coverage.
She says the report recommends that the media must report on issues affecting children.
“We recommend they make a deliberate effort that voices of children, especially where there is no potential for harm to be reported and also diversity in geographical representation of children. Children from rural areas need to be represented.”
MMA says the media in South Africa frequently disregards ethical principles and violates people’s freedom of expression.