Journalists – Defenders of Child Rights
BELGRADE, Serbia, 11 July 2012 - Twenty journalists from mainstream and local media debated the most ethical ways to cover incidents of violence among and against school children in Serbia.
The briefing and the discussion were part of a two-day seminar on 9 - 10 July entitled “Journalists - Defenders of Child Rights” organized by UNICEF Serbia in partnership with the Association of Journalists of Serbia.
The seminar leader was Joan McQueeney Mitric, an American reporter and editor, who used a series of high-profile media accounts about bullying and physical assaults against school children to push media outlets towards higher ethical standards.
“Children should not be used as pawns in media wars for increased circulation in this competitive environment”, McQueeney Mitric said.
Also speaking at the seminar were the Head of the UNICEF Communication Section in Serbia, Ms Jadranka Milanovic, the Coordinator of the Serbian Ministry of Education’s Violence Prevention Unit, Ms Biljana Lajovic, child psychiatrist Mr Oliver Vidojevic, editor of a prominent news magazine, Mr Milorad Ivanovic, Head of the Serbian Association of Journalists and member of the Press Council, Ms Ljiljana Smajlovic and s Nevenka Kraguljac, a representative of a primary school in the UNICEF-supported anti-bullying programme School without Violence.
During the two days, journalists analysed a variety of reports from print and electronic media dealing with violence among and against children and discussed ethical codes and rules o reporting on sensitive issues involving children, including consequences of breaching journalistic codes especially when it comes to disclosing child identity. They also discussed possible stories they could produce that would highlight techniques that got positive results in other countries and in Serbia.
The seminar was addressed via Skype by Mr. Mike Jempson, Director of the UK-based MediaWise Trust, a well known journalists and trainer on ethical reporting on children and child rights in the media.
The seminar is an introduction to a series of activities undertaken by UNICEF Serbia to upgrade ethical reporting on children and child rights and to translate existing rules and regulations into practice. The culmination of the process will be a roundtable in November 2012 with the participation of Serbian media editors-in-chief and representatives of media regulatory and self-regulatory bodies on how best to report on child rights in the media.