Die dekking van MIV/vigs in die Sunday Times, Rapport en Sunday Sun : 'n etiese beoordeling
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The media has an important role to play in providing information to form the perceptions of media users on HIV/Aids. Furthermore, the media has an agenda setting function through which it determines what news consumers think about, and how they think about these topics they are presented with. Extensive media coverage has been given to the subject of HIV/Aids since the start of the pandemic. The nature of the coverage has, however, been widely criticised, mainly by interest groups actively involved in the fight against the disease. Few formal guidelines exist to guide journalists in this field. Moreover, the existing guidelines that originated mainly from the gaps interest groups identified in the coverage on HIV/Aids, are fairly fragmented. Many newspapers follow the general guidelines set by the media industry for ethical news reporting. These guidelines, such as the ethical code of the Press Ombudsman, are a result of self regulation, which is intrinsic to the social responsibility model that is seen as ideal for South Africa. There are several existing codes offering guidance regarding professional standards and general conduct. Only one - that of the now inactive South African Union of Journalists - includes criteria on HIV/Aids reporting. Through formulating guidelines, interest groups have an agenda setting function and a subsequent potential influence on the media and the public agenda. This paper endeavours to analyse and systematically summarise criteria set by the interest groups for ethically acceptable and accountable HIV/Aids reporting against the background of the agenda setting theory and the social responsibility model. In addition, HIV/Aids reporting in three Sunday papers (the Sunday Times, Sunday Sun and Rapport) is verified against these interest group criteria to ascertain how it measures up, and to determine whether a separate interest group code of ethics is desirable. It was found that the Sunday Times views HIV/Aids as a news priority, while the topic does not feature very high on the agenda of the other two papers. The analysis of news items created the impression that journalists have a basic knowledge of HIV/Aids. However, there is little evidence of deeper insight into the potential impact the media could have on the public's perception of the epidemic. Existing ethics codes compare well to interest group guidelines where general professional standards and ethical aspects are concerned. The interest group guidelines, however, focus on specific problems associated with the epidemic, such as stigma and a tendency to focus on the negative. It is within this applied context that such criteria could be useful.
- Humanities