Bid to tap city’s ‘sweet waters – The Argus

Date: October 9, 2010
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Name of Article: “Bid to tap city’s ‘sweet waters'”
Name of Publication: The Argus
Date: 03 November, 2009
Country: South Africa
Theme: Culture and Tradition
Skills: Headline/Sources/Fairness
Genre: News
GEM Classification: Gender Blind

This story is about the origins of human settlement in Cape Town. This is the tale of 13 fresh water springs that attracted early humans to settle in Cape Town more than one thousand years ago. This treasure is re-discovered by a woman environment planner. The springs may be tapped to bring fresh water to residents.

The value of the story is diminished by omission. The discovery is made by a woman environmental planner, who is not given a platform at all. The reader is only able to tell that a woman is behind the research by reading to the third paragraph and/or glancing at the images. The omission brings down the story, even though it is well written. By sourcing a male authority and ignoring the woman researcher, the story is unbalanced. Women’s representation in this field is low, if not rare, and the story of a female environmental planner finding such treasure was an opportunity lost.

The headline aptly captures the rich discovery. There is minimal page furniture (sub-headings, blurbs, etc.) which credits that the discovery is made by a woman, Carol von Zyl. There is silence about her until the third paragraph where her name is mentioned, but it is the only mention.

The story quotes a male: Head of the Cape Town Partnership, Andrew Boraine. Readers can only view the image of the discoverer. Even the caption does not give her a voice but starts with an exclamation remark “Well, Well”, as if to say this is a surprise that a woman has done this job.

Nothing much can be said about the language as the original thrust of the story is lost and the report focuses on the history of Cape Town.

Visual images
A photograph of Caron von Zyl is inserted. However, as mentioned earlier, the captioning does not do justice to this female environmentalist.

Story angle and perspective
The story is told from Boraine’s perspective. One can conclude that he diverted from the discovery probably because he was not sure about the research done by von Zyl. However, the journalist would have made a breakthrough had von Zyl been interviewed regarding environmental issues, where in most instances there are very few female researchers.

Placement or positioning
The story is placed in the centre of page three in the news section. The headline has a big bold font and a full colour picture, thus making it stand out.





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