Media should treat cases involving child victims with kid gloves

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Media should treat cases involving child victims with kid gloves

The use of language and visuals draws attention to emotivity rather than how sentences are arrived at: study

Journalist

As media coverage of the 16 days of activism for no violence against women and children peaks, a recent study challenges newsrooms to reflect on the words and visuals they use to convey stories.

In the study, entitled Crimes Against Children: Evaluative Language and News Reports on Sentences, academic Sisanda Nkoala examined television news coverage of three prominent child murder cases by SA’s biggest broadcasters. The peer-reviewed study was published in the Javnost — The Public journal last month. Nkoala zoomed in on SA’s two major broadcasters’ reporting on the judgments and sentencing of Nicholas Ninow, Zintle Maditla and Nkosinathi Ndlela.

Ninow, who was 21 at the time, was sentenced to life in prison for raping a seven-year-old girl in a toilet at a Pretoria restaurant in 2018. At the age of 25 in 2018, Maditla killed her four children, aged eight, six, four and 11 months. She was handed four life sentences...

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