When truth gets in the way of a good story

Funny how we hardly ever hear “what happens next” on tabloid-type stories.

A couple of weeks ago, when a 12-year-old girl gave birth while on a school trip, tabloid editors worldwide blissfully ignored the worrying details and warnings issued; instead they went for the shallow stories accompanied by sensationalist headlines (which no doubt gains the greater readership required to generate the desired advertising revenue). Subsequently, their readerships did not hold back on their responses, either. So it wasn’t long before a 12-year-old girl few people actually know became an oversexed slapper and slut to many, and the embodiment of everything that’s apparently wrong with young people, (sex) education, society and/or the world as a whole today… supposedly.

Now that it has been confirmed that the 12-year-old girl was in fact the victim of sexual abuse, and her newborn baby the product of rape, I don’t see any editors taking back or even catching up on their previous publications, nor do I see any self-appointed social commenter take back or even apologise for his or her judgemental words in response.

Yes, I did notice that a few cowards made everything right (not!) by setting fire to the perpetrator’s house-that-wasn’t-really-his-house-anyway — yah, that’ll teach him and make up to the young girl for all the blame and disrespect previously levied on her, right?
I think not.

It would be easy to ‘blame the media’ here, and although I am not a fan of that cliche,
I would certainly like those in charge of media outlets to take at least some responsibility here: the warning signs that this girl was a tragic victim were there well before it was confirmed that she indeed was — in fact, they were right in the editors’ faces from the moment the story broke — so why did they not treat the girl and her newborn daughter with more respect, by either covering the story differently or not covering it at all?

And why, whenever anything like this happens, does no editor ever seem to decide on his own back to publish corrections and/or follow-ups (something which is so much easier these days when much is published electronically, allowing for later edits/addendums)? Why do they only ever appear to do this when someone — presumably with the means to afford lawyers and legal proceedings — forces them to take such action?

That said, as much as I would love the media powers that be to take their responsibility and act accordingly, this post is definitely not about riding the populist blame-the-media bandwagon. After all, they are not solely to blame. One may even defend their (at times questionable) decisions and actions in that they have to work to serve and please their audience, or they’d be out of a job. That audience is (or may be) us, the public, particularly those members of the public with computers, smartphones and goodness knows what other devices to access the internet and post our thoughts and opinions.

We’re all adults here, right? So what about the ‘adults’ who deemed it appropriate to post the comments they did when this story was first published? Does anyone ever go back and remove their previous commentary and/or post apologies for previous statements they made?

The most common cliche to pop up in the public/interactive section on any new media platform includes the words ‘freedom of speech’; the context in which that cliche is used may differ from post to post, but essentially the people using it tend to contest they should be allowed to say/write whatever they want, whenever they want to, wherever they please… while I may ponder that particular subject and its surrounding myths on another occasion in another lengthy blog post, allow me to get on my proverbial high horse for a second and wave my moralist finger here at whomever it concerns (such as the aforementioned media folks and keyboard warriors):

With freedom comes responsibility.

Most importantly, I would like wish the young mum and her daughter all the best of health and goodness in life, and hope that she will never (again) let anyone or anything get in the way of her as she works to give herself and her little girl the best possible life — regardless of whatever anyone has said or written about them.

Aside from that, I would love to witness more maturity and common sense wherever I go or look, in both the real and virtual world.

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Licence.
Creative Commons License Op dit werk is een Creative Commons Licentie van toepassing.

Leave a comment


  1. Iva Tanacković

     /  April 6, 2011
  2. Henry Soenarko

     /  April 7, 2011

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