Media Tuesday Bulletin: Oscar: is there an alternative?; Media naming of suspects; Invite to debate

Posted: 19 February 2013 | News - Newsletter | Categories: Media Freedom and Performance

In this week’s Media Tuesday Bulletin:

  • Oscar Pistorius: is there an alternative?
  • Media and crime suspects: to name, or not to name?
  • Invite: panel debate on Rewriting the African Editorial Narrative

Why are we talking about Oscar Pistorius and nothing else?

The nation is still gripped by the news that broke on Thursday last week about paralympic Oscar Pistorius allegedly shooting and killing his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. Social media went ballistic with #OscarPistorius trending for over two days, and if you visit any local news site even right at this very moment, you are likely to find well more than five stories about Pistorius on the home page.

The news about Pistorius broke on the same day as President Jacob Zuma was scheduled to give his 2013 State of the Nation Address (SONA), and it is safe to say that even though many showed a fair amount of interest in the SONA, the Pistorius story still continued to trend and be the most spoken about, probably even more than the SONA.

The youth wage subsidy, for instance, was spoken about quite a lot mid-last year and even saw the Democratic Alliance (DA) and trade union federation Cosatu clash over this issue. The youth wage subsidy is back on the agenda now following Zuma’s SONA, but amid very less fanfare due to the Oscar story.

As more and more coverage the Pistorius story receives with his court case going on, do you feel that other equally (or more) pressing issues have taken the backseat? Has the SONA been unpacked, analysed and simplified for the ordinary you and I to comprehend? Has it been dissected to reveal its strengths and shortcomings?

What about other issues out there that the media and the nation could or should be talking about? Why are such issues not talked about? Is it because as readers and listeners we want more of Pistorius and less (or nothing) of any other issue? Could it be that the media sideline such issues as they do not know how to handle them, opting for crime and/or celebrity stories which are easier to handle? What’s your view on this?

Facebook and Tweet us your views...

Naming of crime suspects in the media: double standards?

When the news about the alleged shooting and killing of Reeva Steenkamp by her boyfriend and paralympic star, Oscar Pistorius, the media did not withhold the suspect’s (and the deceased’s) name(s). Media went ahead and named Pistorius as the suspect and Steenkamp as the deceased, even before the police could confirm their names as they (police) cannot identify suspects before their court appearance.

Three days after the Oscar Pistorius story broke, local media reported about a well-known local actor who had been arrested and facing assault charges after he apparently slapped his girlfriend. The said actor was not named at the time. Broadcast news media such as the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) even indicated that the actor could not be named as he is yet to appear in court.

Why was Pistorius not afforded the same treatment? Is it because he is a celebrity? Could it be a matter of double standards on the part of the media?

What is even more interesting is that many readers and listeners lambasted the media for not naming the actor, pushing for the media to identify him! Readers of the Sowetan newspaper wanted the actor’s identity; and so did News24 readers.

Could it be that the media, by identifying suspects even when they shouldn’t and ethics demand that they shouldn’t, are just doing what their readers and listeners want? Are readers and listeners pushing the media to be unethical?

Tell us what you think via Facebook and Twitter...

Invitation to a panel debate and ‘tweet-up’

The Institute for the Advancement of Journalism (IAJ) and the BBC World of News together with Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) invite you to a panel debate as part of the IAJ Open House series. The discussion, titled “Rewriting the African Editorial Narrative”, forms part of the IAJ and the BBC’s commitment to shifting the way the African narrative is portrayed, and is scheduled as follows:

Place:    Institute for the Advancement of Journalism (IAJ)

                1 Richmond Forum

                Cedar Street

                Richmond, Johannesburg

Date:     Monday 25 February 2013

Time:     12:00 (noon) – 13:00

The debate will be chaired by the Business Day’s Africa Editor, Nick Kotch, and will feature Petter Horrocks (Head of Global News: BBC), Izak Khomo (Producer: SABC Channel Africa), and Allister Sparks (Founder: IAJ) on the panel.

The event will be ‘live-tweeted’ by Media Matters (@MediaMattersZA) and IAJ (@IAJ_ZA) on hashtag #AfricanStory. In the meantime, think of all the questions you would like to ask in relation to the debate and send them to us on Facebook and Twitter, and we’ll ask them for you, or join us then and let’s have a conversation!

If you would like to attend this important and interesting debate, kindly contact Leela Parbhoo (.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) / 011-482-4990) before midday on Friday 22 February.