Analysis of local articles

This page is part of the resources for the module Media and Ethics (Jan-May 2017) taught to BSc (Hons) Journalism and BSc (Hons) Communication Year 1.

Below is a summary of students’ presentations already done and discussions we had in class based on the Fairness Formula handout, particularly the question about completeness.

The articles were randomly selected by the students for analysis from various newspapers.

Article about the death of a little boy.
img_3675Key discussion points:
– The paper is less voyeuristic than the radio coverage (which tended to focus on broadcasting the grieving voices) although the first paragraph of the sidebar about the grandmother crying upon seeing the body is voyeuristic (and one can wonder whether the any of the journalists were really there at that very moment).
– We discussed the recent decision by the American newspaper New Haven Independent not to publish “names or mugshots of those arrested unless they’re public figures, the arrest is judged to be a public emergency, or its reporters are able to interview the accused directly” (see the Nieman Lab article). Here, the full names of the suspected father and mother-in-law as well as a picture of the father are exposed. The ethical dilemma is as follows: what if he and his wife are innocent and the investigation concludes that it was really an accident? This is valid for all newspapers which cover this type of “fait divers”. One can also wonder whether the same coverage would be given if the family concerned was from a different socio-economic background.
– Overall, the article was well structured with an attempt to cover as many facts as possible.

Article about the accident in which a Bangladeshi was killed.
accident-bengladaisKey discussion points:
– The last two paragraphs seemed out of place, more like generic advice from the police inspector to road users.
– There was little consideration for the fact that the victim is a foreigner. What happens to the body? Will there be a thorough investigation? Very often, reporting about Bangladeshi workers remains superficial as if they have limited rights as human beings, regardless of the fact that for most of Mauritians, our ancestors were either slaves or migrant workers.

Article about temporary migration programmes for nurses.
img-20170212-infirmiersKey discussion points:
– There was no information about the criteria for applying.
– There was no information about difficulties that could be faced in insertion in Germany (learning the language and culture). The journalists could have interviewed nurses who have had similar experiences before.
– The article mentions four working sessions but does not say what these were about.

Article about murder case by cyanide.20170210_104840
Key discussion points:
– There was no information about whether the investigation had been ongoing for the 12 years or whether the case was reopened (if so, what triggered the reopening?).
– No mention of whether investigation was further carried out at the time as requested by the coroner who found cyanide in the victim’s blood.
– There was no information about the official status of the two women (who is legally married or merely religiously married?).
– This could have been an opportunity to report about the status of women who are not legally married within the Muslim community and examine how they cohabit when there are multiple wives.
– No statement (or attempt to interview) from the other woman or children (if the latters are not minors).
– Heading focuses on the sensationalist aspect of the story.

Article about sick cattle in Rodriguesmedia-and-ethics-pho

Key discussion points:
– There was a lack of balance as only the viewpoints of the farmers were exposed. There was no interview of official sources about what the authorities have done.
– The article could have included a quick recap of events from the outbreak of the disease for readers to have some context.

Articles about thefts in an NGO.presentation-anoukha1presentation-anoukha2

Key discussion points:
– The first article is very brief and superficial compared to the second one which was published before.
– The first article features a generic picture of the police station of the locality whereas the second one features a picture at the NGO premises.
– The first article does not mention that there have been several thefts in comparison with the second article.
– The first article indicates that the police suspects an inside job and immediately states that the watchman will be interrogated. This leads readers to believe that the latter is suspected.

Article about murder case20170302_165138-sKey discussion points:
– The title of the article indicates that the reporting will focus on the motive for the murder but most of the content focuses on the phases in the victim’s life, primarily on his bad health.
– The style is “he says, she says” reporting rather than building up solid evidence about the link between the victim’s alleged activity as unregistered bookmaker and his death.

Article about deaths in motorcycle accidentsDSC_1121sKey discussion points:
– The title indicates that the article will provide an overview of deaths by motorcycle accidents but it focuses instead on the death of one young man allegedly involved in an illegal rally at night. The second death mentioned in the lead paragraph is barely treated and the reader is asked to refer to an insert (“hors-texte”).
– It would have been useful to provide information about what the sanctions are for illegal races on the highway, how many such races have been reported, what measures are being taken by the authorities…

Article about change in law for organ transplants20170210_105104sKey discussion points:
– The title announces that the first transplant will take place in June but there is nothing in the body of the article to support this firm announcement and date. It may actually take time to amend the law, have it gazetted and implemented. The wording should have been toned down to refer to a possibility rather than a confirmed fact.
– The article refers to socio-cultural associations and their lobbies without expanding on what type of actions these undertook and how they were received by authorities.
– In the insert (hors-texte), there is lack of balance. Why should only VOH and Jummah Mosque be consulted for religious-cum-socio-cultural organisations?
– One would expect to have some information about how many patients are currently waiting for a transplant (and cannot receive one from their relatives, say because of incompatibility or ill health of relatives who are potential donors), that is , how many lives would this amendment to the law save? How many transplants have been done so far or are done per year? The journalist could also have included some interviews of donors and receivers.
– Regarding the other insert on resources, why is a coroner interviewed rather than a surgeon?

Article about lack of teachers in a secondary schoolarticle-prof-s.jpgKey discussion points:
– The article focuses on only one school. One would like to know whether other schools face the same issue. It does not explore the possible causes of the problem (transfer exercise by the ministry, human resource management issues, staff on leave for personal reasons or for training, etc.).
– The sub-heading “Culot” is very strong and there are no quotation marks to show this is the parents’ statement. It is actually legitimising the latters’ view which is unfair. Teachers would fail in their duty if they did not provide comments on the students’ results and they most probably made the comments at the end of last semester in the report books. Such comments are surely based on performance for the past term or year.
– There is no interview of representatives of the PTA or of the Ministry.
– There is no detailed information about the lack of teachers in 2016 (how many and for which classes?) and what measures were taken.
– Also, what are the students up to during the periods where they have no teachers?

Article about a fight between neighbours20170210_104806s.jpgKey discussion points:
– The article relies solely on the police statement and thus on only one version. The police investigation has not been concluded and the journalists have not investigated seriously either as they rely on the alleged victims version only. They do not interview the other party.
– The narrative style is clear but the content is basically “he says, she says” reporting.
– The journalists did not investigate any antecedents for both parties (any other incidents, involvements in other fights for both sides?).
-The article panders to the curiosity of readers and presents the event in the form of a scenario.

Article about a crime scene reconstructionReconstitution.jpg
Key discussion points:
– The title focuses on the journalists being attacked. However in the body of the article, it is explained that one of the suspect’s relatives threatened the journalists but was calmed down by the policemen and other relatives. Is the story about the reconstruction or the journalists? The threat should have been a side item.

Article about a criminal’s sentenceCrime.jpgKey discussion points:
– There are two spellings for the name of the accused (is it Soodesh or Sooresh?).
– One would expect some explanation on why the sentence has been pronounced 12 years after the crime (Did the lawsuit take time? Was he in prison all that time? If yes, will this be deduced from the application of the sentence?).
– One would also expect to have the version of the referee who was also threatened by the accused according to the victim’s brother.

Article about housing for underprivileged20170210_104735s.jpgKey discussion points:
– The article is not clear about whether existing houses will be demolished and rebuilt or upgraded or whether this concerns only future houses to be built.
– How many beneficiaries are there? How will the Rs 200m be allocated? What is the cost per house? How many rooms will there be?
– How are the social workers and NEF employees involved in the project in practice?
– The reporting follows the “he says, she says” model, here mostly official speeches made at a ceremony.

Article about flood simulation20170210_104729s.jpgKey discussion points:
– The article lacks explanation about why there is this exercise in Fond du Sac in particular. Have there been several flooding issues there? If so, a list would have been informative with an explanation about the possible causes (topography of the region? faulty drainage system? obstructions?).
– One would also expect reporting on the reactions of the participants and an explanation about the phases of the exercise + an assessment of what went well and what could be improved.

Article about an increase in the price of dholl puris20170210_104739s.jpgKey discussion points:
– The article could have included information about the typical cost structure for dholl puris (production costs, profit margins, etc.) as well as interviews of simple dholl puri sellers (it only focuses on bigger producers).
– How many dholl puris are produced and consumed on average per day in Mauritius (an estimate)? What are the health issues? Who consumes dholl puris most?

Article about a crimeCutter.jpgKey discussion points:
– The article does not cite its sources, yet it tells the story in detailed fashion despite not having been able to talk to the victim or his relatives. Thus, is it only based on the police statement?
– The lead paragraph contains a sentence which is very affirmative: “Tout cela à cause d’une femme”. This is simplistic and also seems to indicate that the woman bears responsibility for the aggression!

Article about statistics from ICACICAC

Key discussion points:
– The article is merely reproducing content from the ICAC newsletter. It mentions potential reforms as announced by the director but does not state what specific reforms are being considered.
– The graphic and the table convey exactly the same information. The space taken up by the graphic could have been used for additional information.

Article about operation against traders who are still using plastic bagsPlastique.jpg

Key discussion points:
– The article provides some interesting information about traders who have been using plastic bags despite the prohibition.
– It tends to rely primarily on information provided by the authorities. Sources could have been more diverse (traders, customers, etc.)
– The title is about plastic bags yet in the 4th column, it refers to noise pollution and in the last one to abandoned land plots.