October 18, 2014 · Posted in: General, In the News

What are the do’s and don’ts

IN COVERING CHILDREN IN THE NEWS

TODAY ON OUR JOURNALIST’S TOOLBOX: Children in the news by the Center for Media Freedom and Reponsibility

This article was first published on the CMFR website on June 29, 2006. We are reprinting it today with the hope that it would serve as a valuable resource for journalists covering children in the news.

By Rachel E. Khan and Elena E. Pernia

ACCORDING to the National Statistics Office, children below 18 years old comprise about 43.4 percent of the estimated population of 84 million Filipinos.

At the same time, a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) country report dated October 2005 noted that the problems facing Filipino children today are “considerable and pressing.”

It noted four core threats to the well-being of children related to health, nutrition, education, and protection. In fact, the country report ventures to say that out of 100 Filipino children: eight will most likely die before their fifth birthday, 30 will suffer from malnutrition, 26 will fail to be immunized against basic childhood diseases, 19 will lack access to safe drinking water and 40 to adequate sanitation while more than 10 suffer from some physical or mental disability or developmental delay, and 17 will never go to school.

CHILDREN search for what remains of their belongings after fire gutted scores of houses on November 1, 2009 in Bacolod City. Seventeen people were killed, most of them children | Photo by Julius D. Mariveles

CHILDREN search for what remains of their belongings after fire gutted scores of houses on November 1, 2009 in Bacolod City. Seventeen people were killed, most of them children | Photo by Julius D. Mariveles

Yet, despite these pressing issues, news items about children revolve around only two themes: children as “victims of abuse” or “in conflict with the law.”

Covering children
Last January, the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) conducted a study to assess the coverage of children in the local print and broadcast media. A content analysis was made of two nationally circulated dailies and two regional newspapers as well as two evening news programs and three public affairs programs on national television. The content analysis was augmented by focus interviews conducted among media practitioners in six provinces spanning the country. Coverage period for the study was Nov. 15 to Dec. 15, 2005 for print and October to December 2005 for broadcast.

CMFR chose to use the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) “Guidelines for Media Practitioners on the Reporting and Coverage of Cases Involving Children” as basis for measuring the media’s awareness of the need to protect the rights of children. Even if the guidelines do not have the force of law, the responsibility to adhere to it is the test of ethical journalism.

This responsibility falls on both the reporter covering the story and the editor or producer who opts to use it.

CLICK ON THE PHOTO TO CONTINUE READING THE ARTICLE ON THE CMFR WEBSITE.

A CHILD WATCHES as adults wait in line at a relief goods distribution center in Tacloban City. This photo was taken a week after Typhoon Haiyan struck Eastern Visayas | Photo by Julius D. Mariveles

A CHILD WATCHES as adults wait in line at a relief goods distribution center in Tacloban City. This photo was taken a week after Typhoon Haiyan struck Eastern Visayas | Photo by Julius D. Mariveles

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