Sensationalism vs. Solutions


Once upon a time I used to enjoy reading the newspaper. Sunday morning in NYC was a steaming cup of Starbucks in hand and the New York Times weekend addition smiling up at me from the table, oh the excitement and anticipation!

Fast forward to my current relationship with the printed press-I avoid reading the newspaper on most days (although I do still enjoy my NYT online edition).

If sex sells in the USA, sensationalism sells in South Africa. The papers fly off the shelves with daily headlines of infanticide, child rape, murder and corruption.

A Kim Kardashian or Justin Bieber headline would actually be a welcome respite.

Election year is upon us and it looks like an easy win for the ruling ANC party as the opposition have proven themselves to be just as ridiculous. There is an alarming lack of top-down leadership in this country, as the recent cat-fight debacle between opposition party heads Zille and Ramphele proved. The reality is that South Africa is in a state of pure chaos and unless something shifts, something big is going to spontaneously combust.

The smut press of the Star publication is not helping the current situation. Do we really need to be engaging in sensationalism when the underlying issues are screaming for attention? And why not address those?

If I were to write an Op-Ed to the Star, it would read something like this:

Dear Sir,

Instead of inundating your readers every day with Tales from the Crypt, perhaps you might provide a solution oriented article next to the sensationalist one you chose to print. For example the article published today, “South African Mothers Getting Away With Murder”, instead of just printing the facts, make an inquiry about why this is happening and use your platform as a space to create a new conversation on this topic. You raise it and then you leave us hanging. Furthermore, bring the government into this conversation- a shame and blame technique would be a great start. Why are South African mothers killing their children? Is poverty to blame or is it more complicated? These are important questions that someone should be asking, why not you?

Sincerely, M (currently on strike from reading your paper as it is pointless).

With everyone so concerned about the future of South Africa, maybe infanticide, child rape and murder are good starting points. When mothers kill their babies, and uncles rape and murder their nieces and no one asks why, what kind of future can a nation have?

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