Take the lead in prevention, artists urged, The standard

Date: January 1, 1970
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This article focuses on an arts festival held to train artists on how to integrate the theme of HIV/AIDS into their various works.

Trainer’s notes:
Events vs. Issues: News dominates the media’s agenda, and often because of the predominant focus on covering events, journalists miss the opportunity to write more in-depth and contextual stories on the issues that prompt an event to take place. For example, in this story, the reporter angles the story on the fact that an event – theater and dance festival was held on the theme of ‘young artists dealing with HIV and AIDS through Music, Theatre and Dance’ – took place. The story basically answers the ‘who’, ‘what’, ‘when’, ‘where’ and ‘why’, but the issues of wife inheritance as a cultural factor contributing to the spread of HIV, and the vulnerability of girls to HIV, among others looked at during the festival are only mentioned. These issues, which were key themes at the festival, could have been explored in the following two ways, among others:
§                     The reporter could have chosen one of the key issues dealt with in the workshops and developed a story on the angle of how artists deal with it in their work as a reflection of what is going on in the larger society. So for example, the issue of wife inheritance and how it contributes to the spread of HIV in Zimbabwe could have been an angle for a story on how art imitates reality, or on how art can be used to educate and inform targeted communities;
§                     The reporter, through interviews with women and men artists, at the festival, could have examined whether artists see their role as challenging the gender inequalities and cultural factors that spread HIV and make women and young girls vulnerable.
Sources: The story relies on only two sources – the organizer of the festival (male) and the deputy minister of health (the official who perhaps launched the event). The artists, the beneficiaries of the event, are not accessed as sources, nor are the school children who attended the event. These voices are important to giving the reader more insight into the significance of the event, as well as providing their views on the issues and central theme of the event. These voices are central to moving the story from one that is about an event to a news analysis or feature story that gets behind the event to bring out the human interest dimensions of the story.
Training exercises: Give students/participants a copy of the article. Break them into groups, and ask each group to identify three different angles or ways the festival could be reported on (i.e. what stories are hidden in the report as it is written now?). Ask the groups to indicate the sources for each of the story ideas developed. What are some other ideas for stories on the arts and entertainment pages of newspapers, magazines and on television or radio that can focus on the gender dimensions of HIV/AIDS.
Links to other training resources: Gender and HIV/AIDS, A Training Manual for Southern African Media and Communicators, published by Gender Links and AIDS Law Project 2004, chapter 4 www.genderlinks.org.za/docs/training/hiv-training-manual/hiv-ch4.pdf
Gender in Media Training, a Southern African Tool Kit, edited by Colleen Lowe Morna, Gender Links, Johannesburg, 2002

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