Dear dad… – Sunday Independent

Date: July 9, 2011
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Name of story: Dear dad…

Name of journalist: Mary Gold

Name of publication: Sunday Independent

Date: 19 June 2011

Theme: Children

Country: South Africa

Skill: Perspective

Genre: Feature

GEM classification: Gender aware


This is a story that was published for Father’s Day. It is about a woman who regrets neglecting her father for many years until her father died. She tells of how painful it feels to be away from her parents for many years and to only to see them when they die. The writer says she focused on building her career and forgot about visiting or calling her father. This story poses a different perspective to regular stories written for Father’s Day. While most stories focus on absent fathers or the role of fathers as caregivers, this story angle is from the child’s perspective. It puts forward the idea that children have a responsibility to be present in their father’s lives as much as fathers need to be present in their children’s lives. The notion of a two-way relationship gives readers a chance to think about fatherhood in a different way.


The headline, “Dear dad…” introduces the story well. It is short and catchy. One does not struggle to understand what the story is about. One immediately knows that the story is dedicated to a father from his child. The headline does not portray any stereotypes.

This is a single sourced story, as it is told from the personal perspective of the writer. She focuses on her experience of abandoning her father and nobody else is interviewed for the story. While this is a personal narrative, it could have added value if the writer had interviewed other sons and daughters about their relationships with their fathers.

The language used is neutral and does not take sides. No man or woman in the story is treated in a discriminatory manner. The narrator includes her mother in the story but she does not describe her in a differently to her father. Both parents are given the same level of importance in the story, even though the story is dedicated to her father.

Visual images
The journalist used a picture of a popular soccer star David Beckham with his two sons. This is a good picture as it shows him taking care of his sons, doing his fatherly duties. The picture challenges a stereotype about masculinity as it shows a man taking care of his children, which is stereotypically known to be a woman’s job. This picture shows that men too can be care givers.

Story angle and perspective
The voice and views of the woman telling the story dominate the article because it is about her relationship with her father. There is no other voice included in the story. I think this is the best way to have told this story as we hear the issues from a first-hand source. The story challenges stereotypes – it portrays man as responsible and caring people who are concerned about their children’s well being. The writer speaks as a daughter who recognises, in hindsight, how deeply her father cared for her. This poses an alternative to the typical notion of mothers as primary care givers who are concerned about their children. The story also poses an alternative to articles about fatherhood that are usually negative and question male absence in family life. This article tells the reader that there are men who would like to play strong fatherhood roles but cannot because of resistance from their children. It encourages children to take an active role in building a relationship with their fathers.

Placement and positioning
The story is placed on page six of the newspaper. It takes up a full page, which shows that it is seen as an important issue.

Training exercises

  • Is there a better way of telling a story about fatherhood?
  • Are there any missing voices that need to be added?
  • If you were asked to write a story for Father’s Day, what would your angle be?

Other training resources

Clipping: Defending Dad – Saturday Star

Research: Imagery of African fatherhood by Trevor Davies

Research: “Where have all the fathers gone? Media(ted) representations of fatherhood” in Baba: Men and Fatherhood in South Africa by J Prinsloo


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