Three very distinct reporting styles in covering one story of the 6 year-old boy abused by his foster parent, shows how one story can be perceived through different lenses. The Sunday Times(17/01/2010, p. 8), the Daily Sun (19/01/2010, p. 4), and The Star (18/01/2010, p. 2) have all given their own rendition in covering this story and have given it precedence in their publications.
All three publications report on a 6-year old boy from Kwazulu-Natal who was placed in foster care by the Department of Social Development under a woman who allegedly abused him. The articles cover how the boy was beaten up and chained by his foster parent behind her house. Neighbours had to intervene after they heard the child cry for help.
The article in the Sunday Times firstly raises issues of identity. The child, who the subject of story is about, is indirectly identified as there is a full scale picture of the child’s grandmother is pictured. This could put the child at the risk of being ridiculed by his peers and other family members.
On a positive note, the journalist addresses the capacity of the Department of Social Development in to selecting foster parents, together with and the generalthe welfare of the children in its system. The journalist did well in his interrogation, as he showed how the media has a role to play, as a facilitator in holding government responsible and, in protecting children’s rights.
The article in the Daily Sun is an excellent example of how the media can report on a child in a damaging way. The language used as portrayed by in the headline “Boy chained up like a dog” dehumanises the child as he is being reduced to the level of a dog. The only reason this line of argument has been used is to sensationalise the article. The article also does not source the grandmother foster parent and only presents one perspective of the story.
The article in The Star, unlike the other two, is a balanced article. It takes into account both the interests of the child and the citizens need to be informed. The journalist deliberately conceals the identity of the child and that of the grandmother.foster mother The story is written within the context and framework of highlighting the gross abuse this child went through as depicted by the photographs. Both the child and the grandmother foster mother are interviewed so as to allow the readers to come to their own conclusion of the extent of cruelty this child was exposed to.
There were clear differences of how one story can be in the frames used to tell the story.told in so many different frames. The Star gets our vote for the Glad of the week as their reporting style exudes the principles of professional reporting whilst ultimately protecting the rights of the child. A job well done to Sibusiso Mdlalose, and Noor Jehan Yoro Badat.