Challenging new handbook for journalists

11 February 2005 – A new edition of a booklet designed to help journalists monitor their government’s performance as signatories to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) is published this month.

The Media and Children’s Rights has been produced by the Bristol-based media ethics charity MediaWise on behalf of the UN Children’s Fund, UNICEF. The original edition, commissioned in 1999 to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the UNCRC is in use in over 20 countries and has been translated into a dozen languages. It has shaped training programmes for journalists around the world, sponsored by UNICEF and the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund.

The revised and expanded, pocket-sized edition, based on the practical experience of working journalists, includes story ideas drawn from issues raised by the UNCRC and checklists to ensure that media professionals acknowledge children rights in their working practices.

“Media professionals are well placed to keep children’s rights – and their abuse – on the news agenda, by scrutinising policies and legislation, and challenging those who fail to meet their commitments to children,” says Lynn Geldof, UNICEF Communication Advisor for Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States, introducing the handbook.

“It is designed to strengthen journalists’ understanding of children’s rights and to suggest how the issue can generate news stories and features for print and broadcast media,” says MediaWise Director Mike Jempson. “We hope they will find it useful in developing accurate and positive coverage of children everywhere.”

The handbook outlines two milestones for children’s rights since the first edition: the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), signed up to by 191 member states of the United Nations, and A World Fit for Children, the declaration, adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2002 to provide criteria against which to measure the policies and achievements of governments and others concerned with the welfare of children.

It also contains International Federation of Journalists guidelines and over 60 useful international contacts for journalists seeking facts, figures, quotes and advice about children’s rights, including the website containing Media Activities and Good Idea by, with and for Children, which MediaWise helped to devise.

For more information or copies of the handbook contact:
Mike Jempson (MediaWise) +44 (0) 117 941 5889
Lynn Geldof (UNICEF) +41 22 909 5429

The UNCRC adopted by the UN General Assembly on 20 Nov 1989, and ratified by all the world’s governments except Somalia and the USA, sets out what governments should do to promote and protect the human rights of all children. Articles 12, 13,14,17 & 31 refer to children’s relationship to the media.

After submitting an initial report to the Geneva-based Committee on the Rights of the Child, governments are required to provide progress reports every five years. Non-governmental organisations are encouraged to submit their critique of government achievements.

(Bulletin No 108)

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