KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 23 — It is important for media organisations to have strong editorial policy on reporting about children in order to protect the interests and welfare of the minors.
Malaysian National News Agency (BERNAMA) Deputy Editor-in-Chief for International News Services, Jamaluddin Muhammad said in the race to break news, editorial and the management must stand firm and be guided by organisation’s policy and the laws.
“We must have strong editorial policy when comes to reporting about children. From my observation, when one media did wrong, for instances revealing the picture of the child, it doesn’t mean other media must follow. We must have strong and firm stand on this. And stick to our stand.
“If they want to do, we can’t control them, but not us as we have the responsibility,” he said at a webinar on ‘Representation of Children in Malaysia Media, A Way Forward’ on Thursday.
The event was jointly organised by Asia Pacific Institute for Broadcasting (AIBD) and UNICEF Malaysia.
Jamaluddin added that training media personnel are also crucial to equip them with right skills and knowledge on handling and reporting about children related issues.
Speaking at the same webinar, Astro AWANI’s Head and Editor-in-Chief Ashwad Ismail said with the influx of information and content on social media, it is time for news media leaders to lead change in media culture for children.
He said he media also have a role to play in helping the community to foster digital literacy and lead healthy lives in digital world.
“The time has come for us to relook and revisit the way we are doing thing on day-to-day basis and we want to create more better environment for children.
“This is not just for the on-screen purposes where children as our customers are going to consume our content. Is this particular content we really want our children to consume?,” he said.
He also concurred that media practitioners need to have the empathy and follow the guidelines when come to reporting on children.
“The guidelines are always there, the laws are always there. The responsibilities and moral obligations within the of the media fraternity has to be organic. They have to live and breathe this particular guidelines,” he added.
Another panelist, Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM)’s Commissioner for Children, Prof Datuk Noor Aziah Mohd Awal urged the media to abide by the Child Act 2001.
She said children’s rights including privacy and opinions must also always be respected and protected by the media when comes to reporting about children, especially on news that depict them as victims.
She also proposed for the government to established guidelines for media practitioners in dealing with issues of children.
She suggested that for instance, in any programme that involve children, media who were present must ask for the children’s consent before their photos are taken and published and that in any events.
The programme was moderated by AIBD director Philomena Gnanapragasam. UNICEF Representative to Malaysia and Special Representative to Brunei Dr Rashed Mustafa Sarwar was also present.