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When “Allegedly” is Actually and Plainly Ridiculous

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Description: Why can’t we say it as it is?
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Mefiante
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In solidarity with rwenzori: Κοπρος φανεται


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« on: April 23, 2011, 19:53:07 PM »

By now, any South African who hasn’t yet heard about the killing of Ficksburg protestor/activist Andries Tatane about two weeks ago has been fast asleep.  The footage has been aired on just about every newscast since the event, and said footage clearly shows about six police officers laying into Tatane with alarming vigour and brutality.  It also shows quite clearly the gun-happy officer firing the shotgun that resulted in Tatane’s fatal injury.

With all this unequivocal evidence, how then is it that everyone reporting on the issue says things like, “Andries Tatane, who was allegedly killed by police, …”!?

It is true that guilt is to be decided ultimately by a court or a commission of enquiry, and that a trial by media must be avoided.  However, in a clear-cut case such as this, neutrality be damned because one needs a really fertile imagination to come up with scenarios that call the police’s guilt into question.  The footage could have been faked, for example, or Tatane may have died of a combination of over-exertion and fright, and those six officers arrested merely to appease the public… Roll Eyes

Whatever the legal intricacies of such cases, it makes reporting agencies look silly and contrived when they speak of someone’s “alleged” involvement in something when the evidence so unambiguously shows their culpability.  It makes the reporters look like they’re in cahoots with the perpetrators and undermines their already-fragile credibility even further.  And perception is everything in the news reporting business.  Without the right kind, you may as well pack it in.

'Luthon64
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Hermes
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« Reply #1 on: April 24, 2011, 12:51:30 PM »

The news media often behave like a flock of sheep on issues like this.  Should the courts miraculously find the perpetrators “not guilty”, it would be extremely difficult to successfully sue the media for libel in this case, considering all the footage at their disposal.

A related phrase that we often encounter, claims that a person “is innocent until proven guilty”.  Our criminal courts argue from the point of departure that a defendant “is presumed not guilty” in a trial and that the onus of proof is upon the prosecution.  That does not imply that a suspect “is innocent” in the meantime - (s)he may in fact be denied bail.  Even being found “not guilty” by the court is no proof of innocence – it merely implies that the prosecution failed to proof guilt beyond reasonable doubt.  It is not the prerogative of the criminal court to prove innocence.  The media persistently fail to make this distinction.
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ingwe
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« Reply #2 on: April 24, 2011, 19:53:40 PM »

The news media often behave like a flock of sheep on issues like this.  Should the courts miraculously find the perpetrators “not guilty”, it would be extremely difficult to successfully sue the media for libel in this case, considering all the footage at their disposal.

A related phrase that we often encounter, claims that a person “is innocent until proven guilty”.  Our criminal courts argue from the point of departure that a defendant “is presumed not guilty” in a trial and that the onus of proof is upon the prosecution.  That does not imply that a suspect “is innocent” in the meantime - (s)he may in fact be denied bail.  Even being found “not guilty” by the court is no proof of innocence – it merely implies that the prosecution failed to proof guilt beyond reasonable doubt.  It is not the prerogative of the criminal court to prove innocence.  The media persistently fail to make this distinction.


This seemed to me to have started with politicians supporting members charged with some or other crime, it did not take the press long to fall into the same trap!
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st0nes
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mark.widdicombe1
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« Reply #3 on: April 25, 2011, 10:38:27 AM »

I agree that it sounds a bit silly, however the media are not permitted to state that so-and-so committed crime such-and_such until so-and-so has been convicted in a court of law of such-and-such.  Rules of engagement.

What annoys me far more is referring to criminals as 'suspects', as in, "after raping and murdering the pensioner the suspect fled on foot..".  It's almost like those apartheid-era news reports that went something like this: "The woman was battered by a black man armed with a lead pipe, after which he assaulted her."
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BoogieMonster
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« Reply #4 on: April 28, 2011, 11:22:32 AM »

What I actually find annoying is that they often report rumors and suspicions as fact when the subject matter is NOT sub-judice, which seems to give them free reign to spout whatever they like about it.
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