UNICEF-OWM Round Table on Portrayal of Children In Media
Bhubaneswar, December 22, 2023: A media round table on ‘Portrayal of Children in Media’ was organised by UNICEF in collaboration with Odisha Women in Media (OWM) in Bhubaneswar on Friday to emphasise the vital role of media in protecting and promoting children’s rights.
The event fostered a crucial conversation about the influence of media on their understanding of children and their unique narratives. The insightful discussions and panels during the event delved into the profound impact of media on the portrayal of the youngest generation.
While addressing the media William Hanlon Jr., Chief of Field Office UNICEF Bhubaneswar, emphasised the mission to champion responsible and positive representations of children. “Media has the power to shape the narratives that contribute to the well-being and future of our younger generation. Every child’s story deserves to be told with authenticity, empathy, and respect,” he stated.
Ajay Singh, UNICEF Odisha Specialist Social Policy, stated, “Today’s roundtable aims to ensure that child rights are well reported in the media and how we portray children in print, television, and digital media. When reporting about children, we must be positive. Reporting for them should also protect privacy. We should prioritise rights problems above frivolous ones.”
Enlightening the women journalists on the ethics of reporting for children, senior journalist Sandeep Sahu said, “There are certain norms to be followed while reporting for children, as they are very sensitive. Journalists should always hide the identity of children while reporting, including the child’s name, parents names, relatives names, and house or even school. One irresponsible report can traumatize a child and impact her or his mental health forever.” He further requested that all journalists go through the guidelines on child rights by UNICEF and NCPCR for their better understanding.
Speaking on the right portrayal of children in media, Kasturi Ray, President, OWM, stated, “It is imperative that we, as journalists, critically assess our current trends in reporting on children and recognise the need for change. Let us acknowledge the power we hold in our pens and cameras—power that can either empower or exploit. Our narratives can shape societal understanding, contribute to the well-being of children, or perpetuate harmful stereotypes and misrepresentations.
Experts on the issue explored the intricate ways media shapes the perceptions of children and their stories. The mission to champion responsible portrayals and ensure authenticity in storytelling was reiterated.
The Round Table addressed challenges where children are still at risk and underscored the importance of media professionals prioritizing children’s issues in their reporting.
About 75 journalists and media professionals participated in this roundtable discussion.