Sensationalism – Media Watch
Enough to make your blood curdle
A bizarre report in “the people’s paper” suggests that men masquerading as doctors may have stolen blood from an HIV-positive woman to infect others with the virus.
The whole thing smells rather fishy. Three men, dressed as doctors and with what looked like a patient file, turned up at Flora’s house. They then tied her down and drained three bottles (of unknown size) of her blood. Flora woke up in hospital, confused.
And so too would the readers of the Daily Sun be by the strange story about Flora’s blood thieves. Except that just before the end, the article offers a possible explanation for the draining of Flora. And no (perhaps surprisingly for the Daily Sun), they are not vampires. Flora is HIV-positive.
Daily Sun story stuck in the past
An HIV-positive diagnosis is a far cry from the death sentence it used to be – and the media does the public a disservice when it continues to propagate old fears and stigmas.
“AGED 16 AND NOTHING TO LIVE FOR!” is the bold headline of a recent (18 April 2012) cover story in the Daily Sun highlighting the plight of a girl named Thuli who has tried to kill herself seven times in the two years after she was raped and infected with HIV. “I was raped and given HIV, so I am going to die,” she told the tabloid. “It will be better for me to die before I get sick.”
Daily Sun misrepresents HIV as “the deadly disease”
The Daily Sun’s sensationalist language undermines a positive message.
An article in Tuesday’s Daily Sun praised a celeb singer Nandi Mngoma’s quest to shine a “positive light on HIV/Aids”.
But ironically, despite trying to promote a message of education and upliftment, the article shoots itself in the foot by repeatedly referring to HIV “as the deadly disease”.
Sowetan trivialises child sex work
Comparing the Sowetan’s and The Times’ very different approaches to the same article on child sex workers reveals the Sowetan’s trivial treatment of a very serious issue.
Monday’s editions of the Sowetan and The Times both featured the same story in response to a report that highlighted the prevalence of child sex work in Hluhluwe, Kwa-Zulu Natal. Amongst the various issues highlighted by the report was child sex worker’s refusal to test for HIV.
Advocacy for one
Judging from coverage this week, the Sowetan may have helped galvanise the public health system into helping Mavis access corrective breast surgery. But it would be wrong for patting itself on the back.
The coverage may have drawn some attention to Mavis’ situation, but in doing so the Sowetan gave life-saving antiretroviral treatment (ART) an extremely bad wrap.