Metro FM boss marched out – Sowetan

Date: August 5, 2011
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Name of story: Metro FM boss marched out

Name of journalist: Zenoyise Madikwa

Name of publication: Sowetan

Date: 2 March 2011

Country: South Africa

Theme: Media

Skills: Headline, perspective, sources, language

Genre: News

GEM classification: Gender blind

Metro FM station manager, Matona Sekupwanya, was dismissed before her five-year contract expired. She was told not to return to work the following day, with security escorting her from the premises. All her office equipment (laptop, 3G card, access card and cell phone) were seized from her that afternoon. This short article appears to be empathetic with Sekupwanya as the author reminds the readers that “Since her appointment as station manager, Metro FM’s listenership has reached a five million mark and she has generated great revenue streams for the station.” This is an important article but it only touches the surface of what happened. It does not question thoroughly why Sekupwanya was dismissed if she has made unique strides as a woman in broadcasting.

“Metro FM Boss marched out” is the headline Madikwa chose to describe the way Sakupwanya was fired from Metro FM as station manager. This headline suggests that the station manager was fired and escorted out of Metro FM premises. The word “marched” was used in order to describe all the events that happened with regard to her dismissal. To march means to move quickly and silently by order, which was what happened the day Sakupwanya was dismissed. This headline appears to be accurate. It also suggests that Sakupwanya did not have anything to say for herself and simply allowed her boss to dismiss her without warning. It does not give Sakypwanya a sense of agency or control of the matter.

The only identifiable source that Madikwa interviewed was Sakupwanya herself. The spokesperson of SABC, Kaiser Kganyago, was not available for comment. It is commendable that Madkiwa spoke directly to the main person involved in the story and represented her viewpoint. By not being available to comment, Kganyago demonstrates that there might be some unfair dealing in the matter and the journalist should have pursued this further.

Visual image
The only image used is a headshot of Sakupwanya smiling. This is not entirely appropriate as it does not reflect the gravity of the news story. An image of her walking out of SABC escorted by a security guard would have been a better image to use.

Story angle and perspective
The voice dominating the article is of Sakupwanya, who was fired from Metro FM. She describes how she was dismissed, how she feels about it and her future plans. This is a one dimensional perspective and the voices of her colleagues would have added more substance to the story. The journalist should have asked or other sources why she was dismissed. This might be a difficult question to answer, but it would result in a more balanced story. The person who fired Sakupwanya would have contributed a useful perspective to the story. From the angle that Madikwa takes, a reader could conclude that Sakupwanya was unfairly dismissed. If so, then the journalist should have probed further and found answers rather than leave the readers questioning what happened.

Training exercises
1. Regarding the headline, what connotations does the word “marched” imply about women?
2. How does the article represent or portray women in broadcasting?
3. What is the effect of a single source story? How can this be improved?

Other training resources
Publication: Glenwright, D; Lowe Morna, C; Mpofu, T. 2010. Gender and Media Progress Study.

Publication: Perkins, I. 2000. The African Community Radio Manager’s Handbook: A Guide to Sustainable Radio.

Research: Myers, M. 2010. Radio, Convergence and Development in Africa: Gender as a Cross Cutting Issue.

Research: Radio Islam case study


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