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.