Fantasy themes and frames in The Star on Oscar Pistorius in the aftermath of the 2013 shooting

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Peer-Reviewed Research
  • SDG 16
  • SDG 5
  • Abstract:

    This article reports on research conducted as part of two studies focusing on media reportage in the immediate aftermath and bail application of athlete Oscar Pistorius after fatally shooting his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, on 14 February 2013. The first study examined how print media portrayed Pistorius after he shot Steenkamp, but before his bail application. It was informed by Bormann’s fantasy theme analysis (1972), based on his symbolic convergence theory, to identify fantasy themes. The second study was a deductive frame analysis of the primary news frames in articles published in print media during Pistorius’ bail application. The news frames identified were a combination of the common frames identified by Neuman et al. (1992: 74) and Semetko and Valkenburg (in De Vreese 2005: 56) and include conflict, human impact, human interest, attribution of responsibility and violence. Both studies focused on a number of South African newspapers, but this article reports specifically on the results as they pertain to The Star, a leading South African newspaper. The period under investigation is 15-23 February 2013. The fantasy themes identified have indicated that, in Pistorius’ case, he was mostly depicted in a negative light, while there were very few instances where he was portrayed positively. Conflict was the most common primary news frame found in the frame analysis.