A total of 29 local reporters from nine different provinces attended the training at the Hamle Hotel in Akyaka.
The reporters, through presentations, workshops and case studies, discussed the possibilities of creating a child-friendly media and enabling children's participation in the media.
Children to participate in local media
At the end of the training, the participants were discussing how the children can be enabled to participate in the media, how children's rights violations in the media can be prevented and what they individually plan to do as reporters to improve the situation.
"I realized that in my news reports, there was no place for children at all," said Ahmet Yetkin from the Egirdir Expres newspaper.
"I have already started thinking about having a column in the newspaper for children, and periodically allocating space for the opinions of experts."
Fethi Simsek from Burdur Radio said it would be a good idea to have children prepare news stories and conduct interviews on issues that concern them.
Cemile Aydin from Manisa Haber (Manisa News) newspaper said she would give more chance to children to have their voices heard and write more about children.
"Children need to have more opportunities to have their voices heard," said Fatos Unal from Manisa Radio 45.
"We have a Kent Meclisi (City Assembly) program, where citizens discuss issues about the town. Now we will launch a Cocuk Meclisi (Children's Assembly) program, where children will have the chance to get their voices heard."
Isik Orcun from Dunya (World) newspaper in Izmir said she will continue to think about ways to make children more visible in news and always take children into account, since children are invisible in economy news.
Mehmet Bozkir from Guney Ege (Southern Aegean) newspaper in Mugla said he started taking women into account whenever he was writing a news report after the "Reporting on Women's Rigths Training."
Bozkir said now he would take both women and children into account when writing.
Ibrahim Ethem Karahan and Nezihe Hatun Karahan from the province of Usak said they would increase the number of pages in their newspaper and allocate one page for women and one page for children.
Dogan Sonmez from Antalya Venus Radio said he is planning to conduct interviews with children, while Avni Gelendost from the Akdeniz'in Sesi (Mediterranean's Voice) newspaper and Mehmet Yilmaz from Manavgat'in Sesi (Manavgat's Voice) newspaper were planning a joint project: Children's newspaper supplement.
Media where children exist
Participants decided that it is not enough to just raise awareness about children's rights and violations of these rights and agreed that children also need to participate. One of the four basic rights of the child, as overseen by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, is the right to participate.
Associate Professor Dr. Serdar Degirmencioglu stated that 60 percent of the population is made up of children, and 40 percent by the youth.
"I invite you to work with children and the youth," Degirmencioglu called on the participants. The local reporters determined the following during their study with Degirmencioglu:
* The publications and broadcasts for children are inadequate
* There is a very low number of positive news about children
* There is a very low number of positive news about children that also allow the voices of the children to be heard
Dogan Sonmez said that the radio programs for children prepared by BİA² for local radios had a huge influence in Manavgat.
"The children cannot have their voices heard through the media," argued the participants.
"Life has turned children into computers... We can change this; at least, we can try."
The local reporters said they would try to persuade children to participate in the media.
Children become the subject of news only when there is a negative development
The participants agreed that the children only become the subject of news when there is a negative development.
Associate-Professor Dr. Gulgun Erdogan Tosun from the Communications Department of the Ege University brought up three questions with the aim of looking into the possibilities of creating a "child-friendly" media:
* How can the representation, image of children in the media be improved?
* How can children's active participation be maintained?
* How can the children be protected from the harmful effects of the media?
"The media focuses on victimized children who have 'more stories,'" said Tosun.
"However, we need reporters who look into, and criticizes institutions and the system which leads to violations."
Tosun said that the reporters need to be well informed on children's rights to be able to successfully report on them.
She drew the participants' attention to an issue usually ignored: "If the violation of children's rights takes place within a household, the media sees this within the framework of the family privacy."
The media should not say "criminal child" or "homeless child"
Yasemin Onat, a lawyer from the Antalya Bar Association and activist for children's rights, said the conceptual dimension of children's rights is indispensable for the implementation of children's rights by the media. She drew attention to two rights the children have when the media is concerned:
* Right to access information that comply with his/her the needs, and the right to express his/her opinion
* Right to be protected from publications and broadcasts that would have a harming or labeling effect to her/him
While the media's violation of the rights of children, who have been pushed into committing crimes, were widely discussed in all previous training seminars on Reporting on Children's Rights, this was not a big issue in the discussions in Mugla.
The participants, during the first hours of the training, said they hoped for the following:
* that news do not have a negative effect on children
* that exploitation of children in the news is prevented
* that the discussions focus on the factors that push children into committing crimes, instead of the punishments they receive or should receive
Onat highlighted that the media should avoid saying "criminal child," or "homeless child," but instead should say, "child who has been pushed into committing crimes."
Bianet Children's Issues Editor Kemal Ozmen, through news clips, talked about the violations of children's rights by the media and the labeling and exposing of children by the media.
The participants determined the violations in the news clips and rewrote those news.
Ozmen said the reporters should ask: "Who, how and why pushes children into committing crimes" while writing news about children who have been pushed into crime. He added such news reports should focus on the child.
Tosun reiterated that children should be the subjects of the news, instead of an object.
A new life in which children are visible
Journalist Ragip Duran from the Communications Department of the Galatasaray University talked to the participants about the principles of conduction interviews with the children.
The participants, in turn, told Duran about their experiences on interviewing children. Duran reminded the participants that children are independent individuals and expressed that experts and non-governmental organizations are important resources for reporting on children's rights.
Sema Hosta, who is responsible of the UNICEF Communications Program, invited the reporters to join the "Child-Friendly Media Network" established for communicating and self-control for overseeing children's rights when reporting.
Adem Durmaz from the Antalya Gundem newspaper, at the end of the seminar said:
"I realized that locally, we were not writing any news about children. And the ones we wrote for the national media were completely in violation of the principles of reporting on children." Ali Dinc, from the Isparta Gundem newspaper, who spoke after Durmaz, voiced everyone's hope:
"I will reflect what I have learned here in my newspaper; and convey heror him to those who were not here. I am sure my new life will be much better." (TK/EA/YE)