News Analysis

The Mail & Guardian’s article titled “Anene Booysen: Flowers and rage in Bredasdorp” written by Glynnis Underhill (http://mg.co.za/article/2013-02-28-gender-violence-flowers-in-bredasdorp-and-rage) gives the reader quite a detailed view regarding the terrible rape and murder of Anene Booysen. It is an article that seems to cover plenty of relevant information in a short space, and it even mentions the Oscar Pistorius case in relation to the tragedy. Glynnis Underhill’s opinion still seems to be slightly present in the article, thus not making it an entirely objective piece. She manages to frame her article in a way that evokes obvious sympathy for such a tragic story. Framing is defined by Gamson & Modigliani (1987) as “a central organizing idea or story line that provides meaning to an unfolding strip of events… The frame suggests what the controversy is about, the essence of the issue” (Scheufele, 2000: 306).

Underhill makes the reader question the innocence and character of the suspect Jonathan Davids by the way she has written about him. Although she does include in her report that members of his family think he is a good person and that “he could never do something like this”.  This is also shown by the way she has used subheadings such as “good boy”. This has an ironic tone to it, which makes the reader very doubtful of Davids’ innocence. Underhill mentions the fact that there was some speculation about the year in which his mother died. This portrays Davids as a man whose words cannot be trusted. He said his mother died in 2003 but there were “whispers” among the family that she died in 2000. A reader can tell that Underhill is outraged and thinks that punishment needs to occur immediately.

 Underhill has included facts such as the sexual crime statistic in South Africa. This shows the reader the seriousness of the issue, placing it higher on the news agenda in South Africa. Priming according to Iyengar & Kinder’s (1987) definition is that by making some issues higher on the news agenda it influences “the standards by which governments, presidents, policies, and candidates for public office are judged” (Scheufele, 2000: 305). In this article the importance and severity of this issue is shown, but it states that “high-profile” politicians were not present for some crucial moments in this case such as the bail hearing. This is makes the reader feel angry with the government for not taking more action and responsibility. Bredasdorp battles with social issues such as poverty and alcohol and drug abuse, and this calls for attention from the government. The article shows that this area is not getting the help it requires.  The visual above the article shows the grave of Anene Booysen and this adds to the sombre tone of the article.

The article published on City Press titled “Anene: Bredasdorp divisions deepen” by Illham Rawoot (http://www.citypress.co.za/news/anene-bredasdorps-divisions-deepen/) is written in a way that portrays the suspect Jonathan Davids in a sympathetic light. Rawoot has spoken to Davids’ family and gathered background information about the suspect that evokes sympathy in the reader. It does not justify any behaviour, however it just makes the audience more mindful of the other side. This article is a contrast to the Mail & Guardian article, as it seems to show the other side of the story. This article has more quotes from the family saying what a pious, “kind”, and “gentle” man he is. Even though Underhill’s article mentioned that his family and friends thought he was innocent, it was still framed in a way that made the reader seriously doubt it. This article by Rawoot allows the reader to consider the possibility of Davids’ innocence. The article states that the arrest of Jonathan Davids has “torn the community apart”. This shows that he is perhaps a respected man among the community.

Rawoot also mentions the fact that his mother was beaten to death when he was just a child. Moreover he mentions the fact that Davids was involved in a car accident that altered his physical strength for the rest of his life. All these factors make the reader feel sorry for Davids. This shows that framing changes the way that the audience creates meaning of the issue that is being presented. The visual of Davids’ uncle Nico September and “Oom” Simon Europa outside their “modest” home also adds to reader feeling sympathetic and more understanding. It makes the reader question whether Davids is in fact innocent.

The article also states that there is ambiguity regarding what was meant when Booysen said “Zwaai”. This was also mentioned in the Mail & Guardian article, however it was said in a way that still made Davids sound guilty. This article causes the reader to question who Anene Booysen was referring too and what she actually meant. This article portrays a different side to the story and focuses on Jonathan Davids. This shows that the reporter has framed this article in a completely different way to the previous article mentioned.

News24’s article titled “Rumours Fly over Anene Booysen’s attacker” (http://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/Rumours-fly-over-Anene-Booysens-attacker-20130304) is much shorter than the other two articles mentioned. It is much less opinionated than the others as well. It states facts without including any emotional diction, thus making it more objective. It gives the reader the facts quickly, which is what an online reader wants. The article explains that there is some speculation over Jonathan Davids’ arrest. However, unlike the City Press article it does not have a deeper look at Davids as a person. It does not encourage the reader to feel sympathy for him. It also different to the Mail & Guardian article that makes the reader think that Davids is still suspicious and immediate punishment must take place.

The image included with the article is also objective as it shows Jonathan Davids from a side profile view. This does not have any emotional tone or link, such as the other visuals from the other articles. This article is based on fact and allows the reader to create his or her own view, without the underlying view of the reporter.

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