Wits Vuvuzela has ruffled feathers by publishing pictures and a video of the “die-in” during last week’s Silent Protest.
In the August 19 edition, Wits Vuvuzela published on the front cover a photograph taken at a topographical angle from the roof of a neighbouring building, that showed the protestors laying down in a “die-in” which represents the lives that have been lost due to sexual violence.
Another image, and a video were posted online, on the Wits Vuvuzela webpage and its Facebook account.
Organisers of the event, including the Gender Equity Office and Voice Of Wits (VOW) FM took offence at the content, since they had requested that no photographs be taken – let alone published – of the “die-in”. They said this was to show respect to the participants because of the sacredness of the moment.
After formal complaints were received, Wits Vuvuzela removed the video and image that were online and has issued an apology, online and on the front page of this edition. This is in line with
Wits Vuvuzela’s social media policy to “treat all online/social media content as potentially public and acknowledge any mistakes made online”.
The incident resulted in a robust discussion in the Wits Vuvuzela newsroom, as student journalists were confronted, for the first time, with the ethical considerations of journalism.
The photographer, Candice Wagener, had thought because the photo was taken from a distance, it wouldn’t offend, but would bring light to and give context to the issue of rape.
“I wanted to take a photograph of the magnitude of the people that had attended because it was bigger than last year’s,” she said.
Others though, argued that Wits Vuvuzela should have just respected the request not to take any photographs.
“If you’re in a place where there are rape survivors and survivors of sexual violence and they say no, it’s not your place to question that,” said Tebogo Tshwane.
Tension around the images has shown that journalists are fundamentally human but they constantly need to strive towards responsible reporting.
A student newsroom is a good place to learn but those mistakes are never to be repeated. Adjunct Professor of Journalism and Director of the Wits Radio Academy, Franz Kruger, has highlighted how this issue shines the light on journalism ethics and hopes that the students learn from this.
“I think we need to learn to listen when people, particularly vulnerable people, put out some terms and conditions of how they want to be shown,” he said.
Wits Vuvuzela : Wits Vuvuzela comes under heat, AUGUST 26, 2016
Wits Vuvuzela: “We believe you,” says Silent Protest, AUGUST 22, 2016
Wits Vuvuzela: Curtain falls on silent protest, AUGUST 18, 2016