Interests of the child instead of sensationalism in the media
The media in Montenegro should be much more responsible than it is at the moment when covering topics that involve children and young people.
PODGORICA, 4 November 2018 – The media in Montenegro should be much more responsible than it is at the moment when covering topics that involve children and young people, especially in cases of abuse and violence against children. The race for sensationalism should be replaced by high-quality and ethical reporting on children’s rights issues. These were the messages from the press conference announcing the start of a three-day Reuters training for Montenegrin journalists organised by the Agency for Electronic Media and UNICEF.
Sofija Krivokapić, a UNICEF young reporter, said at today’s press conference that the right of the public to be informed should not take priority over the right of any child to dignity and privacy.
Do not violate the rights of the child any more by narrating their life stories and personal confessions in cases of abuse and violence against children. Do not jeopardise our security and additionally traumatise us because of your wish to have a story which will sell more newspapers or increase the TV ratings or number of clicks on portals.
Sofija’s colleague, the UNICEF young reporter Balša Božović, said that today’s media offers very little content that addresses the issues of children and young people, and even when there are such stories their opinion is missing.
Therefore, I am inviting you to ask us for our opinion when preparing stories about us, the children and the young. Trust us, we are good interlocutors and we have a lot to say. Do not talk about us only through adults’ voices. We have our own voices.
Abaz Beli Džafić, the director of the Agency for Electronic Media, explained that the aim of this training is to provide support to the media in Montenegro to report continuously about burning issues related to the rights of the child in a quality and ethically correct manner.
“The media should set an example of the consistent application of professional and ethical standards and fulfil its obligation to inform the public in an exemplary manner, by expressing compassion and eliminating the risk of sensationalism. Our experience shows that the violations of the rights of children in the media mainly result from a lack of awareness about those rights, which is why more attention must be paid to this kind of protection,” Džafić said.
Osama Khogali, UNICEF Montenegro Representative, said that the media has a duty to report ethically about issues related to the rights of the child and that being an ethical reporter means serving the public interest without violating children’s human rights.
One of the key ethical principles is never to publish a story, photograph or video that exposes a child, or his or her siblings or peers to risk, even when the identity of the child is changed, blurred or not published. Also, the permission of the child and his or her guardian must always be obtained for all interviews, video recordings and photographs.
According to UNICEF’s ethical guidelines, the media should always change the name and blur the image of any child found to be: a victim of sexual abuse or exploitation, a perpetrator of physical or sexual abuse, accused or convicted of a crime, HIV positive or a child with AIDS, unless the child and the guardian give their consent fully consciously.
Reuters training inspired the participants to make a short video in which they remind about the ethical standards in journalism and invite colleagues to respect them. By broadcasting this video for free Montenegrin media supported the media literacy campaign and the process of building Montenegrin media capacities to report about child rights issues in an ethically correct manner.
With UNICEF’s support, Montenegro Agency for Electronic Media initiated the media literacy campaign “Let’s Choose What We Watch” in order to encourage the development of media literacy among children and their parents, as well as to strengthen the media’s capacity to create quality content with children and young people and to report on all issues related to the rights of the child in Montenegro in an ethically correct manner.