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

Hostage Crisis Could Divide Japan Over Plans to Boost Military

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Monday the government is working closely with the Jordanian government to secure the release of remaining Japanese hostage Kenji Goto More

Video Brussels Shaken as New Greek Leader Challenges Europe’s Austerity Drive

Country's youngest ever PM Alexis Tsipras, 40, sworn in Monday and says he will restore dignity to Greece by ending spending cuts More

Multimedia National Geographic Photo Camps Empower Youth

Annual mentoring program's mission is to give young people a voice to tell their own stories through photography 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.
Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visiti
X
Aru Pande
January 26, 2015 9:33 PM
U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video US, EU Threaten New Russia Sanctions Over Ukraine

U.S. President Barack Obama has blamed Russia for an attack by Ukrainian separatists that left dozens dead in the port of Mariupol and cast further doubt on the viability of last year’s cease-fire with the Kyiv government. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Kerry Warns Against Violence in Nigeria Election

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Nigeria Sunday in a show of the level of concern within the U.S. and the international community over next month’s presidential election. Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Saudi, Yemen Developments Are Sudden Complications for Obama

The death of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and the collapse of Yemen’s government have cast further uncertainty on U.S. efforts to fight militants in the Middle East and also contain Iran’s influence in the region. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports on the new complications facing the Obama administration and its Middle East policy.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid