Pastor charged under Domestic Violence Act


Date: January 1, 1970
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The article is about a pastor who struck his wife with an axe four times over alleged infidelity.

The article may be used to:

1. Show instances where women only make news when they are presented as victims of abuse by men.
2. Show stories that lack strong sourcing. The reader remains unclear as to where the reporter got the information
3. Give an example of a story that lacks objectivity. The reader can easily deduce that the reporter sympathises with Mrs Kanyoka. No effort was made to get both sides of the story so as to attain balance in the story.
4. Show some of the pitfalls that can befall court reporters, such as getting information from police or court dockets but not following up or investigating further.

 

Trainer’s notes:
The headline is catchy It promises to make interesting reading because it involves a Pastor, who is expected to lead by example, in a sexual offence. The story is however not balanced. The readers are provided with information that was supplied by the complainant Mrs Kanyoka and the story is biased in her favour. The sourcing of information is not so good. The writer does not disclose where he got his information. One is tempted to think that the writer got the information from the police or court dockets. There is no attribution. The writer did not make any effort to verify the matter with Pastor Kanyoka before publishing it or seek clarity or confirmation from any authoritative source. The article therefore lacks gender balance in sources.

  

Mrs Kanyoka is presented in a stereotypical role, that of a victim of sexual violence. This reinforces the notion that women make news when they are presented as victims of abuse. A good story should be informative, objective and balanced. Journalists must lay out the facts and let the readers make their own analysis. A good journalistic piece must also have sources and facts should be attributed to those sources. The journalist must divorce him/herself from the story. In this case the journalist should have made an effort to interview at least two people. The fact that there are no sources quoted or attribution makes the story less credible.

 

The article lacks detail. The reader is only told of what happened outside the courts and none of what transpired inside, whether he was remanded, sentenced or not. The reporter states that the pastor was charged under the Domestic Violence Act, but the reader is not told what the Act stipulates. The reporter assumes everyone knows about the Act so the statement will remain vague to people who do not know its provisions. The reporter should have gone further to explain the provisions of the Act pertinent to this case. A good court story should be objective and balanced. It should not lead the readers to any conclusions before someone is tried in the courts of law.

 

Discussion Questions

1.   What does the Domestic Violence Act say? The article leaves the reader guessing what the Act stipulates.

2.   Does the article consider privacy and confidentiality issues or it is published because it is in the public interest?

3.   What could the reported have done to balance the story?

4.   Who could the reporter have interviewed or quoted to make the story authentic?

5.   Describe the elements of a good court story

6.   Discuss what attribution is? Why is it important to make attributions in a story? Discuss the circumstances under which attribution can be used

 

Training exercises

1. Take any newspaper and select one article from page one. Identify statements that are supposed to be attributed but are not.  Make a tick on those that were rightfully attributed. Identify statements that are attributed but did not deserve to be attributed.

2. Ask participants to follow up a court story and write a good article.

Related GL Commentaries
Support structures essential to domestic violence legislation
Ending domestic violence on the cabinet agenda


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