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‘But where are our moral heroes?’ An analysis of South African press reporting on children affected by HIV / AIDS.
Rondebosch, South Africa, University of Cape Town, Children's Institute, 2005 Sep. 34 p.Messages conveyed both explicitly and implicitly in the media play an important role in the shaping of public understanding of issues, as well as associated policy, programme and popular responses to these issues. This paper applies discourse analysis to a series of articles on children affected by HIV/AIDS published in 2002/ 2003 in the English-medium South African press. The analysis reveals layer upon layer of moral messaging present in the reporting, the cumulative effect of which is the communication of a series of moral judgements about who is and who is not performing appropriate roles in relation to children. Discourses of moral transgression specifically on the part of African parents and ‘families’ for failing in their moral responsibilities towards their children coalesce with discourses of anticipated moral decay amongst (previously innocent) children who lack their due care. The need for moral regeneration amongst South Africans generally (but implicitly black South Africans) is contrasted with an accolade of (usually white) middle class individuals who have gone beyond their moral duty to respond. The paper argues that in each instance, the particular moralism is questionable in the light of both empirical evidence and principles of human dignity underlying our constitution. Children – and particularly ‘AIDS orphans’ – are shown to be presented as either the quintessential innocent victims of the epidemic or as potential delinquents. While journalists intentions when representing children in these ways are likely to be positive, the paper argues that this approach is employed at a cost, both in the public’s knowledge and attitudes around the impact of AIDS, and more importantly, in the lives of children affected by the epidemic. (author's)
Connections. 2006 Jan;  p.Public opinion surveys in Russia indicate that a majority of Russians believe more attention should be given to HIV/AIDS and that the media can be an effective vehicle for promoting greater awareness of the issue, according to a July 2005 survey released by Transatlantic Partners Against AIDS (TPAA). The survey, which polled a nationally representative sample of Russian adults aged 18 to 50, also indicates that 84 percent of respondents believe that the number of Russians living with AIDS has increased during the past five years, 70 percent believe that AIDS is not receiving enough public attention, and 78 percent view mass media as an instrumental component in the fight against AIDS. This survey is reflective of official AIDS statistics, which estimate that 800,000 to 1.5 million Russians may be living with HIV/AIDS, according to TPAA. The organization also reports that AIDS has been particularly devastating to younger generations, with men and women under the age of 30 accounting for 80 percent of all registered cases of HIV. This finding is critical because it raises serious health concerns for the future of an already declining Russian population. (excerpt)