South African tabloid newspapers’ representation of black celebrities: A social constructionism perspective

Matsebatlela, Emmanuel Mogoboya (2009-03)

Thesis (MPhil (Journalism))--University of Stellenbosch, 2009.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This study examines how positively or negatively as well as how subjectively or objectively the South African tabloid newspapers represent black celebrities. This examination was primarily conducted by using the content analysis research technique. The researcher selected a total of 85 newspapers spread across four different South African daily and weekend tabloid newspapers that were published during the period February to September 2008. The results from the data collected reveal that tabloid newspapers tend to overemphasize negativity when reporting about black celebrities. The findings also reveal a clear differential in the representation of black female celebrities vis-à-vis male celebrities. Unlike male celebrities whose roles were mainly defined in terms of political activities and personal disputes, female celebrities’ roles were largely confined to relationships and sex. The language used by the four newspapers in their representation of celebrities appears to be humiliating and, in some instances, downright disparaging. There is little doubt that media representations of celebrities, whether positive or negative, serve as mirrors to how some members of society behave. To this end, there needs to be a shift from the current preoccupation with sensationalizing negative news when South African tabloid newspapers report on black celebrities. Tabloid newspapers should judiciously use their greater focus on celebrities’ private lives to report on more positive personal stories that focus on the achievements of celebrities, including how some celebrities are living positively with HIV/AIDS. Since this study only focused on South African tabloid newspapers’ representations of black celebrities, and only employed the content analysis method, further research is recommended on the impact of celebrities’ representations on the South African society.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie studie ondersoek hoe positief of negatief, asmede subjektief of objektief, daar oor swart beroemdes in Suid-Afrikaanse ponie- of skinderkoerante verslag gedoen word. Die ondersoek is primêr met behulp van die inhoudsanaliseondersoekmetode uitgevoer. Die navorser het 85 koerante uit vier verskillende Suid-Afrikaanse dagblaaie en naweekponiekoerante gekies uit die tydperk Februarie tot September 2008. Die resultate toon ‘n tendens in die poniekoerante dat oorwegend negatiewe verslagdoening oor swart beroemdes vooropgestel word. Die bevindinge toon ook ’n duidelike verskil tussen die verslagdoening oor beroemde swart vroue teenoor dié oor swart mans. In teenstelling met die mans wie se rolle hoofsaaklik ingevolge hulle politieke aktiwiteite en persoonlike dispute gedefinieer word, word beroemde swart vroue se rolle hoofsaaklik beperk tot verhoudings en seks. Die taalgebruik in die verslaggewing oor beroemdes in die vier poniekoerante blyk uiters vernederend, en in sommige gevalle, selfs degraderend en wrang te wees. Daar bestaan min twyfel dat verslaggewing oor beroemdes in die media, hetsy positief of negatief, weerspieël hoe sommige lede van die samelewing lewe. Om hierdie rede is ’n verskuiwing in die huidige beheptheid met die sensasionalisering van negatiewe nuus in die verslaggewing oor swart beroemdes nodig. Poniekoerante wat op die persoonlike lewens van beroemdes fokus behoort na meer positiewe verslagdoening oor hul prestasies te strewe, insluitend, hoe sommige beroemdes positief met MIV/Vigs lewe. Aangesien hierdie navorsing net op verslagdoening oor swart beroemdes in Suid-Afrikaanse poniekoerante kragtens die inhoudsanalisemetorde gefokus het, word verdere navorsing aanbeveel oor die impak van verslagdoening oor beroemdes op die Suid-Afrikaanse samelewing.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/2326
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