The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ), has today completed a two-day capacity-building workshop for journalists on ethical reporting of Child Rights. The workshop was held in cooperation with the Australia’s Direct Aid Program.
Seeking to bridge knowledge gaps in reporting, the workshop was designed to assist local journalists towards producing high quality media content relating to child rights. Running from February 17-18 in Mogadishu, the workshop taught participants how to produce media content on child rights that conforms to the highest international journalism and ethical standards.
The presentations focused on the ethical and social responsibilities of journalists and the particular care required for the coverage of issues affecting children. In the interactive discussions, the participants agreed that while children were not a different species, they are not adults and sensitivity and protection is therefore needed when reporting on them. It further emerged during the deliberations that on the contrary, in the majority of cases, children are largely ignored by the media, which tends to cover them through the prism of adults.
It also transpired during the workshop that many journalists are not familiar with international conventions on children’s’ rights. The journalists admitted to omissions by the media in the coverage of issues affecting children such as the plight of orphans, sexual abuse of children and minors, denial of shelter, access to education and healthcare, exploitation by adults, and exposure to the worst forms of child labour.
NUSOJ Secretary General Omar Faruk Osman observed that while journalists witness abuses of child rights in the community every day, they were not giving these stories the prominence they deserved because they lacked awareness.
“Sometimes, the way local media reports on children is itself, an infringement of their rights. This training sought to socialize media practitioners professionally, so that they can stop looking at child abuse in the context of cultural practices that treat it as normal. It is only through professional socialization that journalists can become detached from the negative societal beliefs and practices that negatively impact the rights and welfare of children. That way, they can play their role as informers and change agents in the wider Somali society,” Osman said.
The training program took participants through the international principles and ethical guidelines for reporting on issues that affect vulnerable groups such as children in a manner that contributes to public understanding of the problem.
Thirty journalists from print, radio, TV and online media as well freelance practitioners, 14 of them women journalists, participated in the training.