The ICTs, GBV and HIV/AIDS nexus

Date: August 23, 2012
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Name of story: ‘Facebook spreads AIDS’

Name of journalist: Fanyana Mabuza

Name of publication:
Swazi Observer

Date: 11 June 2012

Country: Swaziland

Theme: HIV and AIDS, gender violence, ICTs

Skills: headlines, sources, perspective

Genre: News

GEM classification: Gender blind

ICTs have been praised for among other things bringing people in different contexts together and bridging the distances that characterise modern life. However there is the downside to ICTs. Women and young girls in particular have been exposed to cyber abuse. Young people are also in danger as content transmitted via ICTs is difficult to control. This media highlight analyses an article published by the Swazi Observer which reported on a technology symposium that brought four schools in the Shiselweni region of Swaziland to discuss ICTs, HIV and AIDS and gender based violence.

The headline of an article is meant to draw the attention of the reader and should be linked to the body of the story. With so many social media platforms on the internet, the writer specifically mentions the most popular – Facebook – in order to draw reader’s attention. Much as Facebook is one of the popular social networks that the pupils might have cited during the symposium, the reporter could have generalised the headline in order to mirror the article’s content wholly. Further, the headline is in inverted commas connoting that it is a direct quote yet this quote is not found in the story.

In its entirety, the article does not inform the reader about the number of boys and girls who presented and participated in the symposium. All the sources in the story are unidentified. Nevertheless, the story has direct quotes from speakers who participated in the symposium and yet the journalist does not identify them by names and sex. Further, the reporter does not quote any authoritative sources. Considering the nature of issues raised in the article, the journalist should have consulted some authoritative sources like experts or organisers of the event. For instance, the reporter could have interviewed an ICT expert or the police an find out if they have ever dealt with a case of cybercrime.

The article uses gender neutral language. However, it should have used the word learners in place of pupils.

Visual image
The article uses a group photo of pupils, teachers and sponsors who participated in the symposium. The picture is relevant to the article and verifies that indeed the symposium took place.

Story angle and perspective
The article is about how ICTs are exacerbating the spread of HIV and AIDS as well as increasing the prevalence of gender based violence. The article reports on how the learners engaged with ICT issues and their relation to gender based violence and HIV and AIDS.

Further, the missing voices in the article as pointed out under sources are also limiting the perspectives of the article. Voices of the experts, parents, organisers and or teachers would have strengthened the arguments raised by the learners regarding the issue. In other words, this article merely reported the event without probing other comments that could have offered solutions to the challenges raised by the learners.

The journalist should have also offered some solutions to the problem of cyber crimes, information on organisations that deal with cyber crimes, where victims or survivors should seek help among other things. The article would be empowering not just for the learners who did not attend the symposium but also parents so that they better understand issues that affect young people.

Placement and positioning
The use of a visual image coupled with a bold headline and a sub-headline makes the article prominent. In addition, the article occupies the whole page.

The plot of the story is also well structured until the second half of the article with sub-headline “…also promotes GBV”. However, the section does not bring out in detail how ICTs promote GBV until the last four paragraphs of the article.

Training exercises
– If you were to re-write this story, what other sources would you include and why?
– Do an internet search on how ICTs expose women to crime and abuses and write a news analysis based on your findings?
– Find out about an organisation that deals with cyber crime or cyber abuses. Write a profile about this organisation, what they do and how the community can reach them.

Other training resources
– Cybercrime on the agenda of the Sixth Annual Internet Governance Forum (IGF), a GMDC newsletter article
– Cyber abuse and women in Southern Africa: Is there cause for caution?
– Using social media to empower women: a case study from Southern Africa



Download : 15120_facebook_spreads_aids_001.jpg
Download : 15121_facebook_spreads_aids_andgbv_001.jpg

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