As a little girl who was always glued to the television no matter what was playing, watching the news on all “government channels” soon became part of my daily activity. Since those days of being glued to the television I would have not guessed that I too would be running around the little town of Grahamstown lugging around camera equipment in order to shoot a news clip of my own. This rather intimidating task started with a step by step proposal stating what the story would cover and the relevance that it would have to the kind of news that is within the public sphere currently. And with such a dynamic society that we South Africans have, it wasn’t long till I had figured what story would be investigated.
In light of all the media attention that has circled around the high rape statistics that the country has and the on going outcry against the growing numbers, I could only think of my own experience of working with a former prisoner who had been acquitted for the that particular crime. My colleague, had been quite open about the details of his arrest and found a sense of growth and responsibility from his days as youngster and is very willing to take responsibility for the actions that had occurred. Now, within a public sphere where the dominant discourse see’s the male as the sole predator (which of course is highly validated looking at out statistics), it can only pose the question: Can men can change? Could someone charged with such a heavy crime re-integrate in society and lose the “ex-convict” profile.
With the largest population of prisoners in Africa, it is interesting to focus on the rehabilitation process of prisoners once released. The view of the released prisoner is key to view as, this citizen is often ostracised and is given very little opportunity to contribute to the development of the economy. So the process of rehabilitation became a point of focus for this story. By looking at the progress my colleague has made through the use of theatre, we look at how someone has worked to redevelop themselves and work against the common thought that one person is not able to change. These questions are all in light of the current outcry against the rape of Anene Booysen in Bredesdorp.
With such a sensitive and nuanced topic, it is interesting to look at notions of objectivity within a South African context. Objectivity has long been a standard principle of the model journalist. However with the kind of complexities and varying notions people have in entering the profession of journalism, objectivity is hard to achieve. This is due to varying experience and notions that influence how it is one is to write a story and articulate a particular thought. For instance within my story it is very important to present objectivity in representation, but of course my having worked with the subject makes my take on the story a little different to the journalist who is meeting, “the ex-convict”. What matters the most are facts and how those are presented for the reader to comprehend. The notion of objectivity was first comprehended as just giving each subject in the story, equal time. However, as time changes, the different generations redevelop that thought and the role of objectivity is once again blurred and disfigured.
In thinking about what one of our lecturers, Paul Hills highlighted, the changing traditions of the media and the notions of objectivity are what media practitioners need to understand. That way there is no mystified view of what one is doing within society. The role of the media and openness that may have occurred in 1980s and what very different to what the media experiences now. One could go as far as to say that an anti-media movement is in the works as citizens are far more aware of the role of the media and how images can be subverted. There is a greater call for financial compensation from sources which makes the notion of objectivity a blurred notion as people are aware of the dependency that the media has on the people rather than the other way around.
It is therefore so important for the budding journalist to internalise the news very differently by looking at varying perspectives. One needs to interrogate the kind of coverage that takes place and in that make the news a varied nuanced experience. In light of all the conversations around rape culture one needs to have everyone sitting at the table. No matter how repulsive and tense conversations are, the public sphere then becomes an equal one which motivated my particular choice.
From the creeks of the cottage