The Construction Of ‘Farm Killings’ In The Eastern Province Herald

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An Ideological Analysis Of The Herald's ‘Farm Killings’ Discourse (August 1998)

This study examines the ideological inflection of the ‘farm killings’ discourse in the Eastern Province Herald articles published in August 1998.

‘Farm killings’ is a media frame which was applied to a spate of killings of people on the country’s farms since 1994.

Heightened and sustained media attention on the ‘farm killings’ has lifted the phenomenon from the other ‘run-of-the-mill’ murder crimes, and located it firmly as a matter of public concern and a subject of a broad political and economic debate.

In this study I investigate the media coverage of the ‘farm killings’ within the context of these debates.The cultural studies approach to the study of the media provides a fruitful theoretical framework within which this study is located.

The ideological examination of the articles is done using the critical linguistics method - a brand of reflexive, interpretative style of analysis which enables a sustained examination of media texts within their social, cultural and historical context.

This study’s conclusions pose a challenge to the ‘Fourth Estate’ role often claimed for the media.

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