|Gambia Journalists' leaders (GPU)|
The set of principles are contained in an adjusted “2005 Code of Conduct” on children affairs reportage, which was adopted on July 13 as the “2012 Code of Conduct for Reporting on Children.”
The code, revised by the country’s main journalist body, Gambia Press Union (GPU) and the Child Protection Alliance (CPA), was supported financially by the charity organisation, Save the Children, Sweden.
Local journalists are now expected to familiarise themselves with the new principles and abide by it. Most of them knew little or nothing about the old version as a result of not knowing of its existence or just not finding out. Ethically, the 2005 code and internationally accepted principles for reporting on children have been violated in the past.
However, with the new set of principles, local journalists are “not to promote harmful traditional practices when reporting on children; protect the identity and the whereabouts of sources of information where such individuals so required especially when it relates to children; and not to stigmatise vulnerable children when reporting on child-related issues.”
Ethically, the code said journalists must obtain the permission or consent of the child and his or her parent or guardian before interviewing, videotaping, taking or using the child’s photograph.
And where appropriate and necessary, such consent or permission should be in writing and the child or parent or guardian should know that the story might be disseminated locally and globally.
Journalists are also expected to seek permission, when required, from the originating source before reproducing any material relating to children.
The code of conduct also warn that journalist should avoid the use of sexualized messages and images of children; respect and uphold the rights and dignity of every child in any circumstance; protect and promote the best interests of each child over any other consideration; and avoid the publication or broadcasting of journalistic materials relating to children, which are sensational or stereotypical.
Written by Modou S. Joof
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