The ethics of reporting on HIV/AIDS in three major South African newspapers
Ajibola, Oluwatoyin Adeola
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In the study, the researcher explores the issue of ethics of reporting on HIV/Aids in three major South African newspapers, namely Mail & Guardian, The Star and Daily Sun. The researcher argues that deontological and social responsibility ethical approaches are the necessary foundation upon which ethical decisions ought to be based, regarding the coverage of the pandemic in the media. The researcher establishes that journalists have to be bound by duty, which is a key concept within the ethical paradigms which are being proposed. The position that the researcher maintains is premised on the fact that journalists have a responsibility to society, especially because HIV/Aids is killing millions of Africans. And since there is no known cure for the disease, the media have a powerful role to play in ensuring that issues relating to the disease are reported consistently and regularly, since the media have an enormous influence (Retief 2002: 5). Using quantitative and qualitative content analysis as a research design, the researcher examined specifically four main ethical violations levelled against the media. It was found that in the newspapers studied, they had, on average, one story per issue; there is a gross dearth of stories which were humanised; the language of reporting, especially the use of some metaphors, had negative connotations, some positive, and one was political. Regarding sensationalist headlines and text, very few examples were found. One of the major recommendations is that stories on HIV/Aids ought to be humanised, and the narrative genre of news writing offers a solution.
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