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UNICEF congratulates media code of conduct on reporting on children's issues

ANTANANARIVO,  20 November 2004    On the occasion of the 15th anniversary of  the signing of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, professionals from  TV, radio and the print media in Madagascar, gathered together, after two  days  of  intense  discussions, to sign a code of professional conduct related to reporting on child rights issues.

"I  was  aware  of  child rights issues," said one of the Editors in Chief  preesent  at  the  seminar, "but I did not realize that we, the media have a responsibility  in promoting the realization of child rights in general and through our reports in particular."

"I  never  thought  of feature stories, either in the audiovisual media or the  written press in terms of the impact that they may have on the respect or dignity of a child, his or her future, or even in terms of what would be in  the child's best interests. I think of headlines and what sells … now I will think twice." she emphasized.

The  three  day  seminar,  held  just outside of Antananarivo, the nation's capital,  was  organized  by  UNICEF  with  the support and facilitation of Mediawise,  a  noted international training agency for journalists based in the  United  Kingdom.  In  addition, to discussing questions of ethics, the seminar  also  introduced  participants  to techniques and tools for better reporting.

"You have incredible power and with that power comes great responsibility," said  Barbara  Bentein  the  agency's  Representative, while addressing the journalists  in  her  closing  remarks.  "Thank  you  for  your  efforts in constructing a code that is without precedent in Madagascar. I hope, in its light,  you  will  continue  to  keep  us  all  on our toes in terms of our collective  responsibility  to  the Convention on the Rights of the Child," she added.

In  addition  to the development of the code, one of the main highlights of the  three day seminar was a session introduced by eight young people, aged 10-14, who have started their own newspapers in four different provinces of the  country.  Not  only  have these children succeeded in writing articles about  issues  that  concern  them, but they have also, with the support of UNICEF, conducted a mini-monitoring exercise on the portrayal of children's issues in the print media.

"Most  of the articles we have read about children, show us as delinquents, beggars,  or victims," said Toki, aged 15 from Majunga, one of Madagascar's six  provinces. "For once we would like to see a program or read an article that  shows  us  as more than victims or trouble makers ­ perhaps that  even just shows as how we are -- normal."

UNICEF  intends  to  follow  up  this  seminar with provincial trainings to broaden the discussion on the way reporting on child rights is conducted.

For more information, please contact:

Misbah M. Sheikh
UNICEF Madagascar
Off :         261-20 22 626 45/46
Fax :        261-20 22 628 45
Mobile :    261-33 11 892 83
Email :      msheikh@unicef.org




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