Coverage of Children in Swaziland’s Media

Coverage of Children in the Swazi Media, June 2010

Poor sourcing of stories remained a challenge though there was a slight reduction in the number of single or no source stories. This time single or no source stories accounted for 33% against 43% in the last study. It  is important that newsrooms eliminate  poorly sourced stories in order to ensure professionalism in journalism.

All stories were event-based and very few quoted laws, policies or statistics on children. For instance, on 1 June 2010 the Observer quoted the Minister for Health, Benedict Xaba, speaking about a government survey that revealed that school girls as young as 13 years had resorted to smoking. Whilst making reference to the survey, the newspaper could have done better by getting hold of the survey report and quoting from it as well instead of relying on the Minister’s speech only.

The Times, on the other hand, did well in a story published on 26 May 2010 in which about 30 primary school girls were given more than 20 lashes each for allegedly being in love relationships. The newspaper, though quoting an official referring to the Corporal Punishment Code  for schools, did cite that the Code limits corporal punishment to five strokes for children. This, therefore, meant that the Sibuyeni Primary School that gave 20 lashes to each of the 30 pupils went against the code.

SAMSUNGAll children interviewed felt marginalised by the local media and wanted to see more content about children and by children across all media. This was also consistent with findings in the previous study, which means the local media has not done anything to meet the children’s expectations since the last study in September 2009.

Research by MISA-Swaziland, funded by Save the Children (Sweden)

Read the full report here

Coverage of Children in the Swazi Media, September 2009

The study revealed that:

  • Children’s voices are mostly absent in Swaziland’s media. The electronic media, in particular, has marginalised children as there are hardly any programmes for children or hosted by young people.
  • The typical children story in the print media was a basic event description. The stories displayed a lack of analysis, rarely citing policies, laws or statistics about children.
  • Single-sourcing of stories has remained a major problem in the media.
  • The majority of stories portrayed children as victims of poverty, hunger and in many cases the children were used as baits to solicit help.

Research by MISA-Swaziland, funded by Save the Children (Sweden)

Read the full report here

Coverage of Children in the Swazi Media, 2007

This paper offers the results of a research project undertaken into the ethical standards of newspapers in the kingdom of Swaziland. In the first published research of its kind in Swaziland, the project takes as its starting point the assertion that journalists have a duty to promote and protect the rights of children. Journalists in Swaziland have created their own codes of conduct which include responsible reporting of issues involving minors, but a qualitative analysis of the Swazi Press reveals that journalists are failing to follow their own code of ethics.

Although Swazi journalists can take some of the blame for the lapse in ethical standards they are influenced by the circumstances prevailing in the kingdom in which they work. Swaziland is mired in corruption and dishonesty in public life is generally overlooked, so it is unsurprising that media practitioners reflect this in their own work.

One cannot also divorce the poor reporting of children from the more general weaknesses of journalism in Swaziland. A survey of the content of newspapers in Swaziland conducted by the media advocacy group MISA concluded, among other things, that there was a lack of diversity in the news, with the majority of reports poorly sourced, over relying on MPs and senators as voices while under representing women. News reports lacked depth of information and some reporting was unfair, failing to permit rejoinders from persons or groups who had an allegation laid against them.

Research By Dr Richard Rooney 

Read the full report here



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