Currently, there is little positive incentive for media practitioners to change the manner in which they represent children, for the following reasons:
- The findings of the ECM project highlighted how children are effectively marginalised and excluded from news media, thus offering little, if any, incentive to reconsider how children are represented in the media;
- There are relatively few challenges to the manner in which children are represented;
- Children are seldom seen as target audiences for news media.
- It is often easier to maintain existing media methods for reporting on children, than to attempt to implement new practices.
- In addition, journalists often lack the necessary resources, both time and technical means, to conduct adequate research for stories.
Stories on children are often the most difficult to report for a variety of reasons:
- Often the emotions and feelings involved are difficult to deal with, especially in child abuse stories;
- Access to children can be difficult, especially in criminal cases;
- Journalists may feel intimidated about interviewing children;
- Just as children naturally require special protection and care, when compiling news stories on children, greater care and consideration is required than when dealing with adults;
- As adults, it is often difficult to see how key social issues like HIV/AIDS, poverty, crime, and the election process impact on children. It is even more difficult to see how those stories may be of direct importance to the journalists’ target audience.
The purpose of the Isu Elihle Awards is to encourage innovative and different stories on children, through the creation of media awards for the best story concepts. Not only will the project encourage different thinking, and through the award offer a positive incentive to journalists, but the nature of the project will also encourage the writing of other stories about children.