Reporting for social change : HIV and AIDS in Namibian press 2009
The purpose of this BA-thesis is to identify the patterns in the HIV/AIDS communication in four Namibian newspapers and examine the causes to why it is portrayed in that manner. The newspapers, The Namibian, New Era, Windhoek Observer and Informanté, vary in ownership, funding and style; from government loyal to tabloid and the journalists themselves have different backgrounds. A combination of quantitative content analysis of issues from September and October 2009, and interviews have been used. Main theories are Thomas Tuftes version of the Model for Communicationon HIV/AIDS, Denis McQuails interpretation of framing and the media’s informative role and finally Silvio Waisboards Strategic communication. The results found are that articles on HIV and AIDS are common in the daily range of news but that HIV/AIDS is generally not the main subject in the text. According to the journalists the reason for this is that by isolating the subject it can enhance the risk of stigmatizing the people with HIV/AIDS. None of the newspapers have a policy on how to address HIV and AIDS, New Era is, however, in the progress of implementing one. All newspapers have had discussions on how to report on HIV/AIDS. The most common way to report about HIV and AIDS is to write about the spread of the disease and the people affected by it. Even though they appear frequently they do not get their own voice in the texts. Instead official representatives and civil society are the most common sources. The reason for this is not only lack of resources but also, as one journalist points out, an unwillingness from the reporters side due to the sensitivity of the subject. Some of the journalists stress the importance of writing to change individual behavior but none of the journalists mention that they include the structural causes behind the disease in their reporting. Reader fatigue is mentioned as a cause for the seemingly decreasing trend of coverage on HIV/AIDS. Some of the journalists say that their own personal opinions and experiences on HIV/AIDS affect their writing. They believe that committed reporting is not in conflict with the journalistic convention of impartialness. All the reporters have a journalistic aim of creating social change in the Republic of Namibia and they believe that the media has the power to do that.
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