Media should show empathy in reporting children’s issues: NGO

By IANS,

New Delhi : Urging the media to be more responsible in reporting on children’s issues, an NGO said here Friday that most of the coverage by news channels and newspapers showed a lack of empathy.

At a one-day workshop organised by NGO Butterflies, discussions were held on the impact of media reports on children.

Citing examples, Rita Panicker, director, Butterflies, said: “In the recent media coverage of the Uttarakhand flash floods, one story which was highlighted was a news video where a child was seen in desperation, crying as her parents were in hospital. The news anchor attempted to emulate the child asking for her mother, and saying that she repeated: “Mother, where are you? Look at me, I am not able to walk.”

Panicker said the attempt was only to highlight the tragedy, and showed little empathy for the feelings of the girl.

She also pointed to crime stories where children were targeted.

“In the Aarushi murder case, the girl’s morality was questioned in many media reports. She had a tragic death, but the highlight of the media reports was her allegedly questionable morality, which was unfortunate,” Panicker said.

In many crime cases or children’s issues, the media conducts its own trial before a court trial. Unfortunately, aberrations make news, but over-sensationalising can always be avoided,” she said.

Pointing out how sensitive reporting could help, Gita Bamezai of the Indian Institute of Mass Communication (IIMC) said: “Media showcased how positive and sensible reporting helps in many instances. In the case of Malala, the 16-year-old Pakistani student, who was shot by the Taliban in 2012 for her activism for girls’ education, media coverage aided in getting prompt treatment.”

The NGO also stressed that the Indian media, which represents what is arguably the largest journalism industry in the world, has 13,598 registered dailies and 36,662 weeklies. It has altogether about 70,000 registered print publications and close to 800 television channels. It represents a force that could do much good, if it would report with sensitivity, Panicker said.

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