Sunday World and Sunday Times ‘slave for formula’?

I have wondered how the heck Sunday World newspaper managed to crack this headline “Bafana Bafana quality for Afcon 2012! Thanks to a better goal difference” on 9 October 2011. Heck even Sunday Times ran a “Bafana sneak though” headline, saying the national team “qualified for the 2012 African Cup of Nation tournament via the back door following a hard-fought draw”. What the hell?

Both articles were not only misleading but that they were inaccurate too, I think. And as a result I suspect they breached one of the South African Press Codes which is quite clear that:  “The press shall be obliged to report news truthfully, accurately and fairly” – something both newspapers had obviously failed to do.

This reminds me of the recent British newspaper, The Daily Mail, which on 03 October 2011 ran an article with the headline: “Guilty: Amanda Knox looks stunned as appeal against murder conviction is rejected”.

The article alleged that Amanda Knox had been found guilty of murder even before the court ruled so. The Daily Mail was accused of having written the article in advance in case Knox was found guilty. It was further suggested that the newspaper – and a few other media outlets like Sky news, the Guardian newspaper although these did not go to the extent the Daily Mail did – wanted to be the first to “break the news” especially online that Knox had been found guilty. And boy did it shoot itself in the foot when it ran that inaccurate, misleading article.

As a result I have since wondered whether Sunday Times and Sunday World articles were a result of “journalism’s dirty secret” as Charlie Beckett wrote in The Guardian on 04 October 2011, when he criticised the Daily Mail for its inaccurate report on Knox. Beckett said it was not that journalists were biase, or lazy or even stupid but that their “problem” was that of being “slave for [news] formula”.

The two newspapers have since left me no alternative choice but to believe that their journalists – Sunday Times’ Kgomotso Mokoena and Sunday World’s Kgomotso Sethusha – were probably not lazy at all, and neither were they biase or even dump-stupid but that they were just being a “slave for [news] formula”.

Too sad if that is the truth.

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