News / Africa

News Channel Plans Wall-to-Wall Coverage of Pistorius Trial

Olympic and Paralympic running star Oscar Pistorius stands during court proceedings at the Pretoria Magistrates court, August 19, 2013.
Olympic and Paralympic running star Oscar Pistorius stands during court proceedings at the Pretoria Magistrates court, August 19, 2013.
This Valentine's Day, February 14, will mark one year since Reeva Steenkamp was shot to death by Oscar Pistorius, the South African Olympic star. As he goes on trial at the beginning of March, his every move will be watched closely in South Africa especially with the help of a 24-hour news channel that will be dedicated to the trial.

When former U.S. football star O.J. Simpson was accused of murdering his wife Nicole Brown Simpson about 20 years ago, the case and trial became a media sensation, with newspapers and television stations breathlessly covering every detail of the story.

South Africa really hasn't had anything of the sort until now. The murder case against Oscar Pistorius has garnered blanket coverage, both nationally and internationally.

Anton Harber is the director of the journalism program at the University of Witswaterand. He said the Pistorius story has marked a change in the media landscape in South Africa.

"It was our first big Twitter story. The newspaper that first heard of the shooting of Steenkamp by Pistorius, put it out on Twitter rather than hold on to the story. It signaled a shift in our news flow," said Harber.

But South Africa has also undergone large changes in the television market.

"In this country we've had 24-7 global news channels, like CNN and Sky for some years. We've had a local one for a couple of years. But in the last few months we've had a proliferation and suddenly we have three of them. So its some surprise that the satellite, the people that provide the satellite bouquet, have decided to open up in a sense their own channel, a fourth one that will be running 24/7, but its the only one that will be entirely dedicated to one story. Definitely this is starting to feel like our OJ Simpson moment," said Harber.

The channel, a pop up channel that will broadcast on satellite television operator DStv, will be run by the producers of Carte Blanche, a very-well respected news magazine show, which frequently does in-depth investigations.

George Mazarakis is the executive producer for the new channel, a role he's held at Carte Blanche for 19 years.

"It's because of Carte Blanche's integrity that people would turn to this channel and watch what we are going to do with it. Clearly we are not going to simply sit there and do salacious reporting. That's not what we do. Our aim is to inform and educate our viewers," he said.

The channel hopes to run a live stream from the courtroom and balance that out with about 78 documentary stories that have been made about aspects of the case and analysis from a team who has 150 experts on call to speak to certain areas of the case.

"So it's an opportunity for us to unpack those things in intelligent and a responsible manner, and at the same time to make it compelling television. Which is what we hope we achieve as a matter of course," he said.

While Mazarakis said the television channel wouldn't sink into tabloid territory, Harber said other media in South Africa have walked over that line.

He said in the early days of the case, especially, as international media descended on the story, finding new elements to the story became important for news organizations.

"There's been a frenzied search in all the news operations, in newspapers in particular, to get something fresh, to break something fresh on the story. And that has pushed some newspapers, I suppose, to take a more tabloid approach. One or two of them burned their fingers quite badly early on in the story by rushing to press some things that were wrong. That sobered a number of news outlets who I think will now be a little more careful," he said.

In a recent opinion piece in South Africa's Mail and Guardian, editor Chris Roper wrote that the country is now a 'Tabloid Nation,' not so much arguing that the country craves sensationalism, but rather quick, and easily digestible information- and any new piece of information.

The Pistorius trial is set to begin March 3. The channel will launch the night before.

You May Like

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Video Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid