When birthing makes the news : the depiction of women as a newsworthy item in Die Burger (Oos-Kaap)

Preller, Cindy (2011) When birthing makes the news : the depiction of women as a newsworthy item in Die Burger (Oos-Kaap). Masters thesis, Rhodes University.




The thesis “When birthing makes the news: the depiction of women as a newsworthy item in Die Burger (Oos-Kaap)” analyses a common, yet complex news topic in the South African print media due to the sensitive, often sensationalised, nature of the topic. The private experience of birthing is featured more and more in the public domain of newspapers because of widespread service delivery problems within the South African health department. Focussing on the Eastern Cape, I examine the representation of birthing in Die Burger (Oos-Kaap) in texts printed between 2005 and 2007, and scrutinise the media’s monitorial role of a self-appointed public hero acting on behalf of the women, to expose the poor conditions at government hospitals, specifically in the Nelson Mandela Bay region. How the women and their bodies are reported on, creates a discursive tension between the negative portrayals of the birthing women and the monitorial role of the media. The news values of sensationalism and profit are achieved with visceral representations of the reproductive functions of the birthing women. A poststructuralist feminist theoretical framework reveals discourses that perpetuate race, class and gender inequalities in the apparently socially-concerned sample of texts. A Critical discourse analysis (CDA) provides an approach and method to inform a close textual analysis of both the lexical and visual elements of the texts. The discourses in the sample differed from text to text. Despite these differences, the monitorial role of the media is still achieved. My research argues that acting in the public interest with sensationalist copy is still acting in the public interest. I conclude that it is not easy for newspapers to separate sensationalism from accountability. Media practitioners should be aware of their role in constructing women’s identities and be particularly thoughtful when reporting on birthing. In doing so, this research aims to improve the manner in which women and their bodies are reported on within the newsindustry.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Uncontrolled Keywords:Women, Media, Die Burger, South Africa, Birthing
Subjects:P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN4699 Journalism
Divisions:Faculty > Faculty of Humanities > Journalism and Media Studies
ID Code:2433
Deposited By: Mrs Carol Perold
Deposited On:31 Jan 2012 09:26
Last Modified:03 Feb 2012 09:36
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