This essay considers the article entitled “Julius Malema on the ropes” that was published on the Times Live website on 31 October 2011 for an analysis of media ethics. Herein it will be argued that this article transgresses many journalistic standards including violation of privacy, social responsibility and proper use of sources. It is important to uphold these journalistic standards in order to sustain the accountability of the media. The accountability of the media is essential as it plays the role of watchdog in our society, being responsible for the exposure of dishonesty, corruption and malpractice ( Schultz, 1998; 4). Julius Malema has been viewed as a highly controversial South African Politician. He was once a member and leader of the African National Congress Youth League but was ultimately expelled for sowing division in the party and for bringing it into disrepute on 24 April 2012 (Bauer, 2011) . This expulsion took place nearly six months after the publication of the article “Julius Malema on the ropes” appeared on the website of Times Live. The time it took before any significant action was taken against Julius Malema renders the article published by the Times Live somewhat misleading. The term “on the ropes” holds the connotations of immanent failure, one quite strongly associated with boxing when one opponent manages to push the other onto the ropes of the ring with a barrage of blows. Considering the connotations of the term it would appear that the article is suggesting that Malema was soon to meet with failure. The article discusses an ongoing investigation into the financial affairs of Julius Malema while suggesting immanent action to take place. It should be noted that a police warrant for the arrest of Julius Malema was issued on 21 September 2012, nearly a year after the publication of the Times Live article suggesting the fast-approaching prosecution of Julius Malema. The headline of the article in discussion is deemed misleading to the public as its suggestion took more than a year to come to fruition. This can be considered as a transgression of media ethics as it is the duty of the media to create an informed public in order to help them shape debates and the making of decisions (Finlayson, 2005). Times Live created unwarranted speculation regarding the arrest of Julius Malema by entitling their article “Julius Malema on the ropes”. At the time of publication there was no indication as to when the prosecution of Julius Malema might take place. The following is an excerpt from the article that Times Live might use to justify their choice of headline ““it was just a matter of time” before authorities acted”. This is a very vague statement as “a matter of time” can be interpreted in many different ways and within a variety of different time brackets. The in text quote here also raises concerns regarding media ethics which will be discussed shortly, however it is now an appropriate time to deliberate over how the editor or sub-editor might have better handled the selection of the stories headline. The following is an extract from South African Press Code
“10.1. Headlines and captions to pictures shall give a reasonable reflection of the contents of the report or picture in question.” The report published by Times Live is a summary and current status of the investigation into the financial activities of Julius Malema by the Hawks, an elite South African police unit, and the South African Revenue Service. There is no evidence in the report that suggests when, or even whether at all, the prosecution of Julius Malema might take place other than the following, “The Times has established that the net is closing in on Malema”. The article does not go on to reveal how The Times have established that the net is closing in on Julius Malema, another topic of contention regarding media ethics which will be raised later. It would seem as though The Times has appropriated the use of their headline by claiming...
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