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Media urged to adopt a code of conduct to cover issues related to children

Handbook launched on Ethical Reporting on and for Children

Dhaka, November 9, 2010:  Media professionals were urged to adopt a code of conduct for reporting on issues related to children and to practice ethical journalism today at a seminar on ethical reporting on children jointly organized by UNICEF and Management and Resource Development Initiative (MRDI). According to a study on how children are reported on in Bangladeshi news, media currently allot very little space to children. Only three per cent of total news media focuses on children and only 13 to 14 per cent of the child-related news involved in-depth reporting. In addition, the media tends to cover a narrow range of child-related issues, and children make the news most frequently when they have died. 

The study also exposes the media tendency to sensationalize and highlight violence, which could have negative impact on children. On the other hand, Government policies related to children are heavily ignored by the media.

These key findings were disseminated at today’s seminar which was chaired by the Vice Chancellor of Dhaka University, Professor Dr. A A M S Arefin Siddique in the presence of UNICEF Representative, Carel de Rooy, as special guest. The seminar was moderated by the renowned journalist Monjurul Hasan Bulbul. A handbook on Ethical Reporting on and for Children was launched at the event in order to guide media professionals to better report on children.

The handbook is a response to the study finding that, in Bangladesh, codes of ethics for journalists are rare and rarely receive proper attention. One key recommendation of the research was to develop an ethical code of conduct for media houses in order to guide journalists in their work.

 “The study helps us to have a clear picture of the way that the media reports on children and identifies the gaps that need to be addressed, said UNICEF Representative, Carel de Rooy. If children represent around 45 per cent of the population of Bangladesh yet only three per cent of the news is centered on children, then something has to be done to ensure a more balanced coverage. Journalists need to begin prioritizing children and paying more attention to their issues. When reporting on children, they should also make a  special efforts to include children’s perspectives in their reports.”

The baseline study was conducted under the joint project ‘Building Capacity of Journalists for Ethical Reporting on Children’, implemented by MRDI with UNICEF support. A total of 10 mainstream national newspapers and three TV stations, including national broadcaster BTV, were monitored for three months from June 2009 to August 2009.  

Based on the study findings, training and orientation sessions were facilitated for more than 300 media professionals. Those who participated devised their own set of ethical norms which were taken into account when producing the handbook on ethical reporting on children. Media houses were also encouraged to develop and adopt their own code of conduct.

The handbook aims to guide media professionals in order to ensure responsible reporting on children and their rights. It recommends the use of sensitivity versus stereotyping and stigmatizing. The document stresses that the best interests of children should be a journalist’s primary concern when reporting on children.

Christine Jaulmes, UNICEF Chief Communication and Information, UNICEF Bangladesh and Hasibur Rahman, Executive Director of MRDI also spoke at the event.

For more information, please contact:
  • Christine Jaulmes,  Chief, Communication and Information Section, UNICEF Tel: 9336701-10, Ext: 209, Email: cjaulmes@unicef.org
  • Hasibur Rahman Mukur, Executive Director, MRDI,Tel: Tel: +88 02 9134717, +88 02-9137147, Info@mrdibd.org, bmrdi@yahoo.com

About UNICEF
UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence.  The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS.  UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.

For more information please visit: http://www.unicef.org.bd/

For more information on MRDI, please visit: http://www.mrdibd.org/

 

 

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