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How Does Law Communicate?, Vol. 27 - 2020, No. 4

Guest Edited by Philippe-Joseph Salazar and Klaus Kotzé

Crimes Against Children: Evaluative Language and News Reports on Sentences

, pages: 420-432

This study explores how South African television news reports communicate on sentence proceedings criminal cases involving violent acts against children. These kinds of crimes tend to attract public interest, and the outcomes can be a litmus test on the community's views concerning the justice system. By using cluster criticism to consider the discursive and non-discursive components of selected news reports, the study considers how television news broadcasts use factual and evaluative language and visuals when communicating court outcomes. The paper argues that these broadcasters tend to use evaluative language and visuals, as opposed to factual terms. This tendency can prevent news media from playing the educative role envisaged in the principle of open justice because instead of emphasising the factual aspects of sentencing proceeding, these reports focus on the outcome and the emotive aspects of the cases that entertain rather than educate.

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