How the press fails us in the Oscar Pistorius story!

2013-02-17 14:19

Very rarely it ever happens,post 1994 at least, when almost every newspaper front page and editorial as well as banner headlines are ad idem on the same topic,albeit but with a editorial slant and spin. So this weekend newspapers ran like blood hounds after news broke of  the horrible story of the murder of Oscar Pistorius' girlfriend by his hands! How the victim was dressed and how Oscar reacted at the crucial time is on newsprint !

Fact is that Oscar admits shooting his girl friend.Fact is that a bat with blood on it was found in his house. Fact is that CCTV footage place the victim Reeva Steenkamp at the scene of the crime.Fact is that Oscar protests that he accidentally shot and killed her,mistaking her for an intruder! One Saturday paper went so far as to carry a report of Oscar's alleged state of mind. I think one psychologist referred to him as  betraying a 'narcissitic disorder' although she admits that she has not examined  and professionally diagnosed him!

But these are untested facts that have little or no persuasive value or content that people on social media sites give credence to even though they've yet to be established and proved before an impartial judge sitting in a court of law. Why I say this is because facts are the product of the mind removed from the truth that matters! I say this in the light of the facts that many innocent people,especially in the US,have been executed for brutal crimes only to be exonerated decades later through scientifically verified DNA evidence! That is why the principle that our and every judicial system relies on is 'beyond a shadow of doubt'. In the case of Oscar Pistorius we know,courtesy of the media hype,what happened but not how and why.That will eventually be crystalized through examination and during cross examination in court.

So now we know so much about what allegedly happened  thanks to the media that self styled executioners have surfaced on social media sites baying for his blood, having already found him guilty of the brutal crime he now stands charged with.No need for  court of law to establish the facts and the unadulterated truth still being gathered by the police investigators.Just put him away or bring back the death penalty one or two have posted on Facebook!

People have every right to be angry but an angry person loses his or her objectivity especially given the fact that just last week Anene Booysens was brutally raped and murdered in Bredasdorp and her alleged rapists and killers have been apprehended and due process is taking place. Mob justice is not part of any civilized society and even though I too am angry I will defer to the courts to do justice!

We need to calm down and leave the  evidence gathering and the fact establishment to those trained in forensics.Let them do their job and present the facts to the courts and establish unbiasedly as well as professionally guilt beyond reasonable or a shadow of doubt. I am afraid of the scenario that saw Jacob Zuma's corruption case gets thrown out because the Scorpions had acted unlawfully in seizing evidence laden documents. Now we will never know the truth relying now on our own fetish for innuendos and prejudice laden thought engineers!

This brings me to the failure of the media. It's response to the breaking news has been like the captain of the titanic and in that process we find ourselves sinking beneath the sea of prejudice angry that murderers and rapists are getting away with their dastardly deeds. Our media is corporatized where the bottom line is often profits so it's kosher to shape the truth to suit what people would like to read.  The media often creates its own reality  that sells newspaper's  and how readers respond often gets passed under the rubric of freedom of expression in which the truth is often buried deep beneath the surface of the hype that many self styled vigilantes rely on.

Saber Ahmed Jazbhay

@jazlaw24

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