Friday, October 16, 2009

No Home, No Equality, No Press Coverage...No Democracy

Yolandé Botha

The week of the 28th of September proved to be one of distress for Kennedy Road residents who are members of the non-profit shack-dwellers organisation Abahlali Basemjondolo. Two people were left dead and scores of others uprooted after their shacks were burnt down.

Although the mainstream print media failed to give the Kennedy Road events due coverage, the online news media offered a few interesting perspectives. The feature surrounding the events by Politicsweb linked the attacks on Abahlali with other national concerns such as Moe Shaik's appointment as the director of Secret Services. This approach to news coverage is helpful seeing as it allows us to see how certain events are symptomatic of larger ills within government structures.

The Witness' report on the events were also insightful. The report was written in a soft news style. It included the personal experiences of real people. Another interesting aspect was the way in which the reporter immersed himself in the situation, resulting in a report which felt like a journey through the turmoil.

A typical hard news approach was taken by The Sowetan. They relied primarily on government sources and they used words with strong emotive quality such as “rejected” in relation the Abahlali Basemjondolo. This style of reporting does not lend the necessary level of humanity that is needed when dealing with a story that affects people's lives as directly as this.

It can thus be seen that various different reporting perspectives were taken in approach to the same event. Personally, I feel that this story is best suited to a intimate and emotive approach which portrays the true intensity of the situation.