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South African Mob Justice Skewed Report

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Introduction

The mob justice report in a South African community, which was local news, became international. This is due to its broadcast on the internet through Youtube, which is made accessible worldwide. However, the report also raised some questions about its accuracy, and it has some implications on journalism. I argue that the media coverage of the mob justice was poor and it did not represent the news accurately. In this essay, I will be talking about the poor reporting of the news and the factors that affected it, how technology has played a part in the mob justice, the lessons that I have learnt and the video report’s impact on me.

Critical Analysis

This analysis begins with the problematic issues about the report. One problem is the usage of the sources. In the news report, there was a lack of authoritative sources being used in the report. Key people involved in the mob justice, such as the victims of the attack, the attackers themselves, the town council, were not interviewed. They were the best source of information for the mob justice as they had first-hand experience on the case, yet there was no interview with them. In the report, there was only one main contact through Golden Mtika, a resident journalist. We do not know if he had gone through certified journalistic trainings to be doing journalism or being directly involved in the mob justice. Even though he was seen taking pictures in the report, none of the pictures he took were published in the report. Thus, there was no proof of his work and it questioned the validity of his report.

Another problem with the report is about its background context. The video report had no background context and there was no explanation of what caused the mob. The audience may be confused as they do not live in the South African community themselves. A reason for the lack of context can be due to parachute journalism, where journalists “jump from crisis to crisis without providing information early enough or delivering adequate context”. (Meyer, 2012) The journalists may not have spent enough time in the South African community to do research on the mob justice. The lack of research can be shown through the video report which lacked a good explanation on the context. They do not have experience to report foreign news and they may not have the language skills to communicate with the locals in that country. One example would be when Pope John Paul II passed away in 2005, the US news organisations sent experts on the topic on religion to Rome so that they can bring coverage on his funeral and death. (Obijiofor, Hanusch) Thus, parachute journalism results in poor quality of news.

Technology played a huge factor in reporting the mob justice. Many videos from mobile devices were used in this report. However, we cannot verify if they were taken directly from the mob justice itself or from another incident. An example would be the videos that showed people getting beaten up and having their faces censored. The violence shown and the dramatic music were to just cover up the lack of content and background context of the mob justice. It seemed that 3rd Degree sensationalised the news to make it more dramatic, but in truth there was no content.

With the Internet being used as a medium to broadcast news worldwide, mob justice in South Africa became international news. What was being first regarded as local news in South Africa has become international news. Thus, the line between local news and global news was blurred. The global audience may not be familiar with the culture of South Africa, which can mislead them to have inaccurate views about the nation if they do not study the news carefully. This can be supported from the article named “A comparative content analytical study of negative news in Western and Third World Newspapers” which quotes “In the age of global communication since people are constantly exposed to international communication, it is becoming increasingly important to examine the content of international news because news received from other countries has a tremendous impact on people’s perceptions and understandings of the world.”(Chaudhary)

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From this report, I have learned that it is crucial to read the news critically. Not every news that we view are accurate as they can be parachute journalists who are reporting the news. Extra graphics and sounds may mislead us with the lack of content in the news. Thus, we need to be critical thinkers when we read the news.

Another lesson that I’ve learned is that anyone can be a journalist. With almost everyone possessing a mobile device, anyone can record a video or take a photo of an incident and instantly post it online through social media. The “mobile devices provide the necessary preconditions to make “news on the move” a reality”. (Franklin, 2014)

This mob justice report has implications on me personally and as a journalist. Personally, I realise that it is quite easy to be misled with inaccurate news reporting. With many news circulating online, it will be more difficult to decipher which facts are true. As I mentioned in the previous paragraph, news can also be derived from the online public worldwide but they may not be trained as a journalist. Thus, as a journalist I need to be responsible in being careful with the sources I put in my report. I have to ensure that the news I report is true and the information is accurate, especially news in a foreign country that I am unfamiliar.

With regards to being a foreign correspondent, it will be good if I spend more time in the country that I am reporting the news from so that I can have more time to carry out interviews and to be in contact with people involved in the news. I will need to ensure that I give a background story about the news and ensure that the audience that I am reporting to back in my home country will understand it. I have to ensure that my preconceived notions about a nation will not affect my judgment toward the nation that I am reporting as it can tweak my report’s objectivity. In this mob justice, it is easy to report news about Africa in a negative light. The news about third-world countries are rarely reported unless the news is negative or they are involved with a first-world country. An example would be in 1982 when Argentina and Britain had a disputation over the “ownership of the Falkland Islands”. It received global coverage in the media due to Britain’s presence globally. (Obijiofor)

In an analysis of news magazine coverage of the Rwanda crisis in the US news media, Wall (2007, 261) argues that ‘Western news organizations have tended to paint a one-dimensional portrait of intercountry conflict occurring on the African continent. (Wall, 2007) However, there are things about Africa that are positive and by only reporting the negative things about Africa will only “fail to characterize the nations’ vast complexity of languages and cultures and its sense of harmonious gradualism’”. (Beaudoin, Thorson, 2001) Hence, as a journalist, I need to be mindful that my news reports are powerful to paint a certain impression about a people group or nation to the readers.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the report of the mob justice was done poorly and this has led to inaccurate views about the case. Foreign reports are to be written carefully with sufficient research so that our readers can understand it. It takes vigilant research on the case and being mindful of the audience we are writing to report excellent and trustworthy news.

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South African Mob Justice Skewed Report. (2022, March 17). Edubirdie. Retrieved September 24, 2022, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/south-african-mob-justice-skewed-report/
“South African Mob Justice Skewed Report.” Edubirdie, 17 Mar. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/south-african-mob-justice-skewed-report/
South African Mob Justice Skewed Report. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/south-african-mob-justice-skewed-report/> [Accessed 24 Sept. 2022].
South African Mob Justice Skewed Report [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Mar 17 [cited 2022 Sept 24]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/south-african-mob-justice-skewed-report/
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