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JHR mentors on child reporting in Sierra Leone

JHR mentors on child reporting in Sierra Leone

Journalists for Human Rights (JHR) have commenced a three day training session for Sierra Leonean Journalists at Santano House, Freetown from 31st to the 2nd August 2013 on ethical reporting on issues affecting children.

The international facilitator, Andrew Ewoku told journalists that in generating critical thinking on child rights stories, journalists should be cautious in the manner in which such reports are published as it sometimes has an adverse effect. Such cases may include juvenile justice, common offences committed by juveniles, alleged rape cases, alleged sexual penetration, abuse of young girls, child mining, forceful marriages, child labour, and sexual disparity in child marriages, etc.

He said that the training is a way to enhance and promote journalistic guidelines for ethical reporting on children below eighteen (18) years of age.

He added that, child reporting matters involved research and thinking because it is critical for the rights of the child, wherein stories that are blown out of proposition always endanger aspects of the life of children.

Mr. Ewoku further stated that children have the right to be protected from harm, noting that reporting on children should be done in the best interest of the promotion of the rights of the child.

The Country Director Yeama Thompson spoke about the lapses in the code of ethics related to the reports made by journalists both in print and  electronic and stressed that the training is timely and very significant.

She informed journalists that such code of ethics of reporting is unique and universal, noting that journalism is a powerful profession that should show much compassion for those who may be affected adversity by news coverage, and also special sensitivity must be incurred when dealing with children and inexperienced sources or subjects.

She said that reporting on children’s issues should also be sensitive especially when seeking or using interviews or photographs of those affected by tragedy or grief, adding that when gathering reports or information the media should also recognize the causes of harm or discomfort.

Yeama Thompson maintained that journalists should recognize private people as they have greater rights to control information about themselves than to do with the public officials and others who seek power, influence or attention, and that only an overriding public need can justify intrusion into anyone’s privacy.

She however stated that professional journalists believe that enlightenment is the forerunner of justice and the foundation of democracy, adding that the duty and responsibilities of a journalist is to further those ends by seeking truth and providing a fair and comprehensive account of events and issues. The training was facilitated by JHR and funded by UNICEF.

By Mohamed Y. Turay

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