Judge Ota makes legal history

Date: December 7, 2012
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Name of story: Judge Ota makes legal history

Name of journalist: Sibonginkosi Mamba

Name of publication: Swazi Observer

Date: 2 November 2012

Country: Swaziland

Theme: Justice System

Skills: Perspective, sources

Genre: News

GEM classification: Gender blind

Description: This media highlight provides a gender analysis of a news story published in the Swazi Observer about the first black female judge appointed to the Supreme Court of Swaziland. The analysis critiques the perspective the reporter took while reporting this progressive development. The piece further analyses the use of sources in the article.

Headline: The headline is catchy and relevant to the story as it reflects its content fairly. Needless to say that putting the word “history” in a red font colour grabs the attention of the reader. The sub headline is also equally relevant to the story as it further summarises the content of the article.

Sources: The article is single sources and it is beefed up by some factual information. The voice of Chief Justice, a man, dominates the article. This makes this article gender blind.

There are a number of important voices that could have been included in the article. First and foremost, the reporter could have interviewed Esther Ota because her appointment is news. One important issue the reporter could have tried to find out from Ota is how she will use her position to influence that more women have access to formal courts. Secondly, her appointment as a female judge to the Supreme Court is a milestone in as far as gender issues are concerned. The journalist could have therefore interviewed a gender equality activist to comment on the development.

Language: The article use gender neutral language.

Visual images: The article has no visual images

Story angle and perspective: The article entirely reports about the appointment of Ota and Philip Levinsohn as judges to the Supreme Court of Swaziland. Much as Ota’s appointment stands outs as newsworthy, the reporter needed to go beyond this. Swaziland just like many other African countries is still battling to realise women’s rights. Ensuring that women have access to legal justice systems that treat them equally and fairly like their male colleagues is among the things women’s activists are calling for. The reporter could have therefore probed if judge Ota will bring any difference to the emancipation of women in the country. This could be achieved by investigating Ota’s legal career and her previous judgements on gender related cases.

Placement or positioning: The article was published as a sidebar story on page four. Considering the size and the positioning, the editor accorded less prominence to the article.

Training exercises
– If you were the sub-editor of this newspaper, where would you place this story and why?
– How else would ensure that this article is accorded prominence?
– If you were assigned by the editor to write this article, what are other issues would you have included in the articles perspective and why?

Other training resources
– SADC Gender Protocol 2012 Barometer- constitutional and legal rights


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