The great divide

2013-03-03 10:00

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Pistorius trial casts light on how media treats disenfranchised

Mabake wa-Masweneng

Springs

As an active citizen of your newspaper’s community, I felt compelled to challenge the state of your journalism over the past few weeks.

City Press splashed its front page with the name and portraits of world-renowned paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius and ran the circumstantial story of how he had “bludgeoned” his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp to death.

Not far from where I am staying, the police have arrested a man for the gruesome murder of his wife, Phumeza Madikane. It is alleged that the husband beheaded her for muti rituals.

This horrendous incident was afforded scant reportage by both print and broadcast media. Perhaps this was because the slain Madikane was poor and resided in a working-class community, while Steenkamp was a model and stayed in an upmarket suburb.

It seemed that your newspaper tacitly valued the death of the famous Steenkamp over that of Madikane, who was unknown.

South African journalism has taken a nosedive, in that it has degenerated into sheer tabloidisation of late. The reality of local journalism is that it cannot move away from its historical tendencies of reporting with frank bias towards the elitist, white, rich and propertied class.

City Press is notan exception to that historical structural proclivity or pattern.

I think your newspaper has been characterised by poor judgement and bad taste in news in the recent past.

My advice to the editorial team is that it should not be tempted to jump on to the tabloid bandwagon as others have already done.

To this end, one is not trying to juxtapose the significance of the unfortunate deaths of both Steenkamp and Madikane against each other.

However, it is important for the media to play a developmental role of condemning the scourge of violence towards women and children in the strongest possible terms, instead of dedicating its focus on profiteering errands and muckracking journalism only.

Finally, City Press must report these barbaric crimes equally without any bias of class, race, gender and other social distinctions.

We are all human beings and our lives are equally important in terms of our Constitution, and therefore City Press should know

better.

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