So, about Louisiana’s children and journalists who write about their unmet needs. As an advocate for children, I am also an avid supporter of journalists who give children and their needs the attention they deserve.
Don’t you see, Louisiana’s children need the proverbial “power of the pen” on their side. In the public arena, children have the tiniest voices. But, in the political arena, where public decisions about their care are made, children have no vote, no voice, and no donor value.
I believe children are the most special of the special interest groups, but ironically, they cannot advocate for themselves or attempt to influence public policy in their favor. Indeed, advocates can speak for children, but in every state, time after time, the spark that suddenly ignites the powder of change agents who have advocated for years is a headline.
I hope Louisiana is always blessed with a loud, effective press. Even more, I hope we will always have journalists who entangle themselves in the stories of children and their needs.
Journalists who do in-depth research and continue telling stories about children and their needs will ultimately enlighten Louisianans about our children’s needs and will provide us with insight into ways to improve child well-being.
Children seem challenging to write about because they must be protected. So, a special relationship exists between journalists and children. Effective journalists and reporters abide by unique ethical guidelines when writing about children and their needs. One example of these guidelines is the UNICEF Guidelines for journalists reporting on children.
This unique relationship is also evidenced by the focused training journalists may receive to increase their knowledge of children’s issues and provide professional education. The Future of the American Child Journalism Fellowship Program 2023 is an example of the foundation-funded training available for journalists interested in writing about children’s needs.
Journalists have the power to influence public perceptions, and at the same time they bear the responsibility to tell the truth and make sure people’s voices are heard. Their power is largely indirect: they are not able to force people to do or not to do something. But they can set the agenda and serve as gatekeepers, determining which issues are brought into the spotlight and which remain in the shadows.
From What power do journalists have and how does it influence their work?
Louisiana’s children need journalists to keep their conditions and needs before our eyes. The well-being of our children will not improve by accident, only by informed intention.
We are fortunate in Louisiana to read the stories of dozens who have reported on Louisiana’s children. Among some of the more prolific and their papers and stations are Andrea Gallo, The Times-Picayune; Scottie Hunter, WAFB.com; Julie O’Donoghue, Louisiana Illuminator; Blake Patterson, The Advocate; Will Sentell, The Advocate; and Victor Skinner, The Center Square.
If you are an advocate for children, then read the news about the conditions of Louisiana’s children and join your voice with other advocates. Together, we can improve the well-being of all our children!