See also:
04.06.2010 - SA press digs into Zuma's sex life
22.10.2009 - SA govt to subsidise poor TV owners go digital
28.07.2009 - Dow Jones wins SA tourism 2010 contract
05.06.2007 - Mandela shares wisdom with journalists
25.05.2007 - WAN congress gets major business support
31.10.2006 - Selling sex, crime & soccer to South Africans
19.10.2006 - South Africans celebrate media freedom
23.06.2003 - South African govt urged to allow community radio











buy from China
South Africa
Media | Gay - Lesbian

South Africa's gays give media failing grade

afrol News / Gender Links, 29 January - A recent radio talk show discussed some of the terms used to describe gay and lesbian people in South Africa, and, rightfully so, invited a prominent gay presenter to talk about what he thought of the way that media represented non-heterosexual communities. "Unfortunately, this type of balanced media coverage of non-heterosexual communities is rare," activists hold.

Rather, the norm when reporting on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) communities in South African media is often negative. Recent research conducted by the Gay and Lesbian Archives (GALA) of South Africa and the Community Media for Development (CMFD) found that media usually "sensationalises" and gives "an unfair reflection" of the LGBTI sector.

As South Africa's landscape changes and develops, there is increasing awareness of the need to ensure diversity of stories covered, voices heard, and access to the media. Funded by the Media Development and Diversity Agency, the 'Out in the Media?' research set out to identify issues, gaps and possible solutions related to reporting on LGBTI issues.

Media are known to reflect society but also play a part in shaping how society views certain topics or communities. Media thus are seen as very influential, and how media portray groups such as the LGBTI sector influences what society thinks. Coverage that is negative, stereotypical or even non-existent, affects how society views these communities, analysts emphasise.

Christine Davies, one of the respondents interviewed for the research, agreed that South African "media tends to sensationalise or demonise homosexuality. Very few reports are celebratory in nature. Specifically headlines will refer to sexuality in criminal cases."

It was found that media are always quick to point out sexuality in news, even if it unrelated to the crime - creating a sense of "otherness", that the community is not part of the rest of society. Headlines such as "Lesbian rapes old granny" insinuate that the lesbian's sexuality is reason for her actions. There are more reports of men raping women but we would never see headline that says "Heterosexual man rapes young girl", the analysts pointed out.

However, a number of journalists also feel that the LGBTI sector is not easy to access. One the journalist said, "LGBTI people should get more involved, stop avoiding and closing doors but rather sit down and learn to trust, and give way to promoting better image of LGBTI people, including experts. Avoiding means journalists go to wrong people for a story."

LGBTI organisations themselves are mostly reactive when it comes to working with the media, mainly responding to bad coverage or issuing press releases only at certain moments. Few organisations indicated that they maintain ongoing relationships with journalists, keep media databases, interact with editor's forums or journalism schools.

Even fewer are undertaking projects that build the capacity of journalists or the sector to create better media. Doing so would serve to help support good media, experts hold.

LGBTI organisations do give credit where due and said that some journalists and media houses report fairly on their issues and events. However, many more journalists and media houses do not respond to information sent out or contact the organisation for information before doing a story, it was found.

In practical terms, the picture however may be more differentiated. Looking at South African newspapers, there are indeed a number of fair articles. Yet, one also sees offensive headlines and editorials. "We would not accept these when it comes to race, or any ethnic group, so why do we accept them about sexuality," activists ask.

As the research suggests, there are a number of ways to help narrow the gap between journalists and the LGBTI organisations, so one can see better coverage. Education and training were said to be the main tools to bring about change. Information and skill sharing would bridge the communication gap, while editorial policies could help ensure fair reporting.

As Mashilo Mnisi, a journalist at 'Behind the Mask', pointed out, "Mainstream media can be more viable and join forces with LGBTI organisations to gain a better insight of the issues."

Just as journalists and media have learned and committed themselves to covering issues of race using sensitive terms where necessary, and not revealing a persons race when it is not necessary, journalists may soon learn to do the same for sexuality issues, activists hope.



By Nosimilo Ndlovu
Nosimilo Ndlovu works with Community Media for Development and was a researcher/writer for 'Out in the Media?'



- Create an e-mail alert for South Africa news
- Create an e-mail alert for Media news
- Create an e-mail alert for Gay - Lesbian news


 
    Printable version


On the Afrol News front page now

Rwanda
Rwanda succeeds including citizens in formal financial sector

afrol News - It is called "financial inclusion", and it is a key government policy in Rwanda. The goal is that, by 2020, 90 percent of the population is to have and actively use bank accounts. And in only four years, financial inclusion has doubled in Rwanda.
South Sudan | Sudan
Famine warning: "South Sudan is imploding"

afrol News - The UN's humanitarian agencies now warn about a devastating famine in Sudan and especially in South Sudan, where the situation is said to be "imploding". Relief officials are appealing to donors to urgently fund life-saving activities in the two countries.
Guinea
Panic in West Africa after Ebola outbreak in Guinea

afrol News - Fear is spreading all over West Africa after the health ministry in Guinea confirmed the first Ebola outbreak in this part of Africa. According to official numbers, at least 86 are infected and 59 are dead as a result of this very contagious disease.
Ethiopia
Ethiopia tightens its already strict anti-gay laws

afrol News - It is already a crime being homosexual in Ethiopia, but parliament is now making sure the anti-gay laws will be applied in practical life. No pardoning of gays will be allowed in future, but activist fear this only is a signal of further repression being prepared.
Ethiopia
Ethiopia plans Africa's biggest dam

afrol News / Africa Renewal - Ethiopia's ambitious plan to build a US$ 4.2 billion dam in the Benishangul-Gumuz region, 40 km from its border with Sudan, is expected to provide 6,000 megawatts of electricity, enough for its population plus some excess it can sell to neighbouring countries.



front page | news | countries | archive | currencies | news alerts login | about afrol News | contact | advertise | español 

©  afrol News. Reproducing or buying afrol News' articles.

   You can contact us at mail@afrol.com