n Communicare : Journal for Communication Sciences in Southern Africa - HIV / Aids reporting in three South African newspapers : research article




The nature of HIV / Aids media coverage has been widely criticised, mainly by interest groups. This has resulted in constructive, though somewhat fragmented, guidelines on ethically acceptable, accountable HIV / Aids reporting. In this article the analysed and systematically summarised guidelines (Swanepoel, 2005:77-137) are used to evaluate HIV / Aids reporting in three South African Sunday papers. It was found that these newspapers partially meet the interest group criteria. They raise awareness satisfactorily, but agenda setting could be improved. Although there is comprehensive coverage of HIV / Aids issues, critical, in-depth reporting is lacking. Furthermore, there is an exaggerated focus on HIV / Aids politics, and too little on relevant scientific and social issues. A lack of alternative angles and a tendency towards sensationalism are noticeable. The three papers often emphasise the "victim image", and fail to use HIV / Aids-sensitive language consistently. In respect of accuracy, there are deficiencies in the use of news sources.


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