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The Times misses an opportunity for a great story

22 June 2016

Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) notes with disappointment the missed opportunity in an article which had the potential to be a very powerful story. “Stage is child’s play for four-year-old soloist” published in The Times, (19/05/2016, p. 6) highlights the success of pianist, Xizhi Aiden Luo, the youngest participant in the annual KZN Young Performers Concert. MMA neither gives a GLAD nor a MAD to The Times for reasons detailed below.

The article showcases the talent of Xizhi Aiden aged four and his sister, Weien Amy, aged eight. Both children have outstanding musical talent and both were reportedly set to perform at the KZN Young Performers Concert. The article describes how Xizhi would perform the third movement of the Noona Concertino in C Major, together with a full orchestra led by a resident conductor, whilst his sister would perform a concerto during the evening’s performance.

At first glance, this article seems to be a positive story, highlighting two very talented young children who, one assumes, would be given an opportunity to give their views on their achievements. However, neither sibling was interviewed nor quoted in the article. Instead, the journalist directly quotes the children’s music teacher as well as the chief executive and artistic director of the KZN Philharmonic.

This article is a clear example of where good intentions, particularly behind writing a positive and child-centred story, can fail where it matters. Far too often we see negative articles which are clearly not in the best interests of the child. Although this article is largely the opposite of that, it does not go the extra mile in making children’s voices heard.

MMA commends The Times for publishing a story of this nature highlighting children’s achievements but in the same breath encourages the inclusion of children’s views in future articles.

By Thandi Smith

1 On a weekly basis, MMA highlights cases of good practice, where the media has promoted the rights and welfare of children, otherwise referred to as “GLADs”, as well as instances where the rights and welfare of children have been compromised through irresponsible media coverage, referred to as “MADs”
2 On a weekly basis, MMA highlights cases of good practice, where the media has promoted the rights and welfare of children, otherwise referred to as “GLADs”, as well as instances where the rights and welfare of children have been compromised through irresponsible media coverage, referred to as “MADs”