Probing the degree of accuracy, bias and fairness in certain daily newspapers in South Africa

Gaibie, Akeela Banu (2002-12)

Thesis (MPhil)--University of Stellenbosch, 2003.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Principles and standards in journalism warrant attention and this assignment attempted to offer some ethical concepts as a framework from which to evaluate journalistic conduct. The proposal was to investigate the level of moral integrity in journalism as practiced in daily newspapers using concepts proposed by specialists in the journalistic field such as accuracy, bias, and fairness. The newspapers examined in the research process were the Cape Argus, the Cape Times, Die Burger and Beeld. As a means of probing the dailies, case studies were made of reports on de Allan Boesak, the former anti-apartheid cleric accused and later convicted of theft and fraud, and Hansie Cronje, the former cricket captain of South Africa, who found himself in a similar position regarding money and the trust placed in him. The research comprised a comparative analysis of articles related to dr. Boesak in the period from 4 March 1997 to 27 March 1997, and Hansie Cronje from 8 April 2000 to 24 April 2000. These personalities were used as case studies to establish whether the four dailies differed in their portrayal of these figures as events unfolded in the public arena. The intention was to find out if there were differences in the approach to the topics covered, and if so, if it amounted to bias, inaccuracy and unfairness The results of the study showed that in the final analysis, dr. Boesak primarily enjoyed favourable coverage in the Cape Argus and Cape Times, while Hansie Cronje primarily enjoyed the same in Die Burger and Beeld. While these predispositions were rather obvious, the quality of reportage was not impaired to the extent that one could regard its news as distorted, inferior or of doubtful quality. The papers were still able to perform a high standard of professionalism in giving equal and just coverage to the topics covered, and were adept at providing a successful forum for the exchange of ideas while keeping the public informed.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Beginsels en standaarde in die joernalistiek vereis aandag en hierdie werkstuk het probeer om enkele etiese konsepte voor te stel waarvolgens joernalistiese optrede beoordeel kan word. Die doel was om die standaard van morele integriteit in die joernalistiek van streekkoerante te bestudeer deu- middel van gespesialiseerde joernalistiese begrippe, onder meer akkuraatheid, partydigheid en regverdigheid. Die koerante wat deel gevorm het van die ondersoek sluit die Cape Argus, Cape Times, Die Burger en Bee/d in. Die dagblaaie is deur middel van gevallestudies bestudeer. Hierdie het bestaan uit berigte oor dr. Allan Boesak, die voormalige anti-apartheid aktivis wat eerstens aangekla en later skuldig bevind is aan diefstal en bedrog, en oor Hansie Cronje, die voormalige Suid-Afrikaanse krieketkaptein, wat in 'n soortgelyke posisie verkeer het weens beweerde bedrog. Die studie bestaan uit 'n vergelykende ontleding van berigte oor dr. Boesak wat verskyn het in die tydperk tussen 4 Maart 1997 en 27 Maart 1997, asook berigte oor Hansie Cronje wat verskyn het tussen 8 April 2000 en 24 April 2000. Die omstredenheid rondom hierdie persoonlikhede word gebruik as gevallestudies om vas te stel of hierdie spesifieke dagblaaie verskil het in hul uitbeelding van die persone terwyl hierdie gebeure in die openbare arena afgespeel het. Die doel was om vas te stel of daar verskille was in die manier waarop die onderwerpe benader is, en indien wei, of dit tot onjuistheid, partydigheid en onregverdigheid gelei het. Die uitslae van die studie het bewys dat dr. Boesak hoofsaaklik gunstige dekking gekry het in die Cape Argus en Cape Times, terwyl Hansie Cronje grootlik dieselfde behandeling ontvang het in Die Burger en Bee/d. Alhoewel hierdie neigings in die verskillende dagblaaie klaarblyklik was, het dit nie daarop neergekom dat die gehalte van die berigte verlaag is tot so 'n mate dat 'n mens dit as verdraaid, minderwaardig of twyfelagtig kon bestempel nie. Die dagblaaie het nog steeds daarin geslaag om 'n taamlik hoe mate van professionele vaardigheid te vertoon deur middel van egalige en eweredige beriggewing met betrekking tot die aangeleenthede van belang in hierdie studie. Die koerante het bepaald daarin geslaag om In forum vir die uitruiling van idees te verskaf terwyl hulle voortdurend sorg dat hulle die publiek inlig.

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