International: women and girls must top cyber security agenda this month

Date: October 5, 2012
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Name of the article : Careful who you share with

Name of publication : The New Age

Name of journalist : Kim Helfrich

Date : 2 October 2012

Country : South Africa

Theme : ICTs, crime, gender violence

Skills : Events VS issues, perspective, sub editing

Genre : News

GEM classification : Gender blind

This media highlight analyses an article which warns about some of the issues that people should be conscious of when sharing personal information through cyberspace. The article published in South Africa’s The New Age newspaper is critiqued from a gender perspective.

The headline is brief and catchy. It is relevant to the article as it highlights the gist of the article that people should be “careful who they share [personal information] with” in cyber space. However, the headline does not adequately reflect what the article is about. Perhaps the reporter could have included a sub-headline highlighting the start of the Cyber Security Awareness Month.

The article use two sources; one female and the other bears a unisex name – making it difficult to determine their sex. Both sources are researchers (experts), thus there is no representation of ordinary people who are likely to experience or might have experienced cybercrime. Further, research (will link this) has shown that women and girls are more vulnerable to cybercrimes compared to men and boys. Interviewing a gender activist to comment on the issue could have added vital information to the piece.

The article uses gender sensitive language. However, the article reports that “this warning comes from CSIR” without telling the reader what CSIR means. For a reader who is not familiar with the acronym and what the organisation does, the contracted name without further information would discourage them to read more.

Visual images
The picture shows a man standing by a piece of technology. The picture is not very relevant to the article because it does not directly relate to the gist of the story. Furthermore, the portrayal of a man standing by the piece of technology subtly perpetuates the stereotype of technology as a male domain. Perhaps, the writer could have used a picture of a person posting something on Facebook or Tweeting.

Story angle and perspective
The story centres on what Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) intend to do during Cyber Security Awareness Month. These include series of talks that will help individuals learn about tips, tricks and policies, mobile phone hacking, cyber terrorism and information warfare. However, what is not clear is how these issues and remedies should and could help and affect people – particularly women who are said to be more vulnerable to cybercrime. The story could more usefully advocate for a more nuanced view of these issues in light of the fact that cybercrime affects women differently – in terms of severity and frequency-from how men may experience such crimes.

In addition, the article does not probe whether there is a need to consider different strategies or understandings of cyber crimes and whether proposed policies can satisfactorily handle these differences.

Further, the reporter could have also given information regarding the prevalence of cybercrimes in South Africa or a cybercrime incident in order to demonstrate why this issue (cybercrime) needs serious attention and intervention.

Placement or positioning
The story is placed at the bottom of page two of the newspaper. It is given a small space, and is sandwiched between two busy advertisements. The length of the story limits its potential to highlight other important issues regarding cybercrime hence making it less prominent.

Training exercises

– Design a media awareness campaign to sensitise people particularly women regarding cybercrime

– Does your country have any measures to curb cybercrime? If it doesn’t, write an opinion and commentary piece that should call for a need to come up with some (measures). In the article, highlight how women and girls are more vulnerable to cybercrime compared to men and boys.

Other training resources
Media attention needed for cyber abuses – a commentary piece published on Gender Links Opinion and Commentary Service
Cybercrime on the agenda of the Sixth Annual Internet Governance Forum (IGF)
South African Cyber Security Academic Alliance
MetaData: Why ID Theft Targets Women – a cybercrime article published on
Cyber Security Awareness Initiatives in South Africa: A Synergy Approach


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