Ship Out! – The Voice

Date: April 13, 2011
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Description: This is a news report dealing with members of the Botswana National Front (BNF) calling for party President Otsweletse Moupo to resign post-elections. Members were unhappy with the party’s poor performance. The article enlists the views of party members. The party leadership is irked by the media when questioned on their continued positions in the face of defeat in the recent elections.

This article highlights the:
– Absence of women’s views and gender issues which are not considered central when covering political stories.
– Narrow use of sources.
– A political leader and his party’s attitude towards a critical media.
– Lack of research and background information.

The headline, “Ship Out!” is very clear about its message. It is a short two words followed by an exclamation mark to capture the sentiment. It’s a bold, strong headline. The visuals accompanying the article and headline leave readers in no doubt about the rising temperature amongst party members.

The sources in this story are Lebohang Letsie, former BNF head of elections, party president Otsweletse Moupo, and party member Marumo Modisakgosi. There are also several unnamed party members said to have spoken to the reporter. While there is more than one source used, this is still insufficient. More appropriate and relevant sources could have been canvassed as the story is complex and has too many holes. The voice of the journalist is much too strong in the story. The lack of sources and the skew in the story as well as the lack of contextual information makes this article unbalanced and biased.

The language used is emotive and judgemental. The tone is clear that there’s a house on fire and the feelings of unhappiness are clearly conveyed. There is some editorialising and commentary on the part of the author. The language used is fiery and subjective and appears to punt the author’s view.

Visual images

There is a picture of BNF leaders, all male, sitting solemnly at a table. There are no visuals of the dissenting party members and there is a disjuncture between the content the article portrays and the picture. The caption is equally devoid of the message of the article.

The visual imagery does not capture the spirit of the article as the opening line is “tempers that flared at the congress”.

Story angle and perspective
The story does not detail the reasons behind the call that the president of the party must step down. Voters’ opinions are not canvassed. The report does not delve into or explore the views expressed. Readers are aware of a single demand only, namely, that the party president must step down. He declines, and the issue is left to the upcoming congress.

Women’s issues are ignored in this coverage and the picture presents an all-male leadership.
Overall the story is weak on research, background information and relevant information that allow readers to make sense of the political dynamics. There are too many gaps and readers are left short-changed.

Placement or positioning
The article dominates the page. In fact it is the only article on the page. A large amount of space is given to this feature and it appears on page nine, which suggests that it is important as it lies towards the front section of the newspaper.


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