Just over a year ago Oscar Pistorius shot and killed his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. Today he goes on trial, a trial that must answer one key question: did he deliberately shoot Steenkamp, or was it, as he claims, a terrible accident?
The media have already billed the Pistorius case as the ‘trial of the century’, equal only in impact and global interest to that of OJ Simpson’s in1994. And some of the experts in that OJ trial have been drawn in to comment on this case.
A huge difference from the OJ trial and that of Pistorius is that in the intervening 20 years, media has moved on quite substantially. Yes, OJ had cameras in the courtroom, but he didn’t face the daily commentary via social networks from not just media and pundits, but great swathes of the global public too.
The competition for exclusive stories will be fierce, and some commentators have already claimed that foreign media, particularly the red top tabloids, will scoop the South African press. Already The Sun, a British tabloid, has broken the story of Pistorius’ new girlfriend, under the headline ‘Blade Stunner’. Oscar-watchers can expect much more of this kind of reporting outside of the courtroom.
Inside the court room, it’s a whole different story. Last week, Gauteng Judge President Dunstan Mlambo ruled in favour of MultiChoice’s application to broadcast audio of the full trial and to televise parts of the trial, including opening arguments, state expert witnesses’ testimony, police officers, any other state witnesses (unless they object), closing arguments, judgment and sentencing.
This ruling is a massive boon to the 24-hour ‘pop up’ channels and dedicated websites set up to report on the trial minute-by-minute, hour- by-hour, day-by-day. The race to find the best commentators, the most erudite decoders of courtroom drama, the best legal brains is nearly over as the channels go live today, ready to feed a public hungry for every last detail.
South Africa has launched two 24-hour channels. Content on MultiChoice’s channel 199 on DStv is being populated by its crack investigative journalism team from Carte Blanche. DStv will also live stream at oscartrial.com.
“We previously added dedicated channels for special events such as Idols and Big Brother. This pop-up channel will give our viewers in-depth coverage of the Oscar Pistorius trial, with a rich variety of content and social media integration,” says Aletta Alberts, head of content for MultiChoice.
“The Carte Blanche producers were the obvious choice to create and package the channel. Their mantra of ‘You have the right to see it all’ ensures viewers will get fair and balanced coverage of the trail,” Alberts said.
Executive editor of Carte Blanche, George Mazarakis, says the channel has secured access to international experts, who will feature as regular guests. “These include criminal defence attorney, Robert Shapiro, famous for his defence of OJ Simpson, American forensic experts and police consultants to hit TV shows like Dexter, who provide fascinating insights,” said Mazarakis.
The presenters are veteran news journalists Derek Watts, John Webb, Bongani Bingwa and Devi Sankaree Govender, top social media lawyer Emma Sadleir, experienced radio talk show host Leigh Bennie, heavyweight legal journalist and radio talk show host, David O’Sullivan and ex BBC presenter, Subniv Babuta.
Another 24-hour channel was launched by South Africa’s first free-to-air digital satellite platform, OpenView HD. Trial TV: The State vs Oscar Pistorius, which will run on OpenView HD Channel 119, will offer viewers live court proceedings from 10am to 4pm.
“There has been a lot of interest around the Oscar Pistorius case amongst our viewers, therefore, we would like to afford our viewers the opportunity to witness and follow the trial of Oscar Pistorius as it happens,” says Monde Twala, e.tv head of channels.
Premier 24-hour television news channel, eNCA, promises “comprehensive reporting” on the trial including live courtroom coverage as well as ongoing expert analysis and interpretation. Those who aren’t able to watch during the day will be looked after via nightly specials with in-depth analysis of the day’s events from 7pm-8pm each night. This will be repeated at 10pm.
“Everyone will be covering the Oscar Pistorius trial. The difference will be the quality of reporting, accuracy and insights into what is going on. We have specialist reporters to do this. We will also provide consistent updates on Twitter and our website, enca.com,” says eNCA group head of news, Patrick Conroy.
The channel’s top legal reporter, Karen Maughan, says much of the coverage so far has been “tainted by inaccuracy and sensation”. “We aim to give viewers clear-headed coverage of this trial, and insights into the strategies behind the evidence. The good and the bad of our justice system in South Africa will be on display. We will cover this trial honestly, calmly and fairly,” she says.
Maughan is joined by reporters Annika Larson and Phakamile Hlubi. Uveka Rangappa, Cathy Mohlahlana, as well as anchors Jeremy Maggs and Iman Rappetti. Gareth Edwards will field anchor from outside the courtroom.
Eyewitness News, which joined MultiChoice in the application to cover the trial from within the courtroom for its radio stations, says not a moment of the trial will be missed. It has planned with video content, live streaming via the Oscar web portal, live blogging, live tweets and regular crossings to all Primedia Broadcasting’s radio stations, Talk Radio 702, 567 CapeTalk, 94.7 Highveld Stereo and 94.5Kfm.
Set to break new ground, an Oscar Extra pop-up station will carry a live stream of the audio from the trial and has been set up to run daily between 9am to 4pm. This stream can be accessed via all four of Primedia Broadcasting’s station websites. Positioned as Gavel to gavel coverage of the Oscar Pistorius trial’ this stream will be hosted by presenters, David O’Sullivan and Gushwell Brooks, who both have an extensive legal background.
O’Sullivan is set to host the morning session and will spend the first hour setting the scene for the day’s proceedings. This will entail coverage by local and international media, highlights from the previous day and live crossings to court proceedings. At noon, there will be a crossing to EWN’s interactive lunchtime show, which will be broadcast on DStv’s channel 199, where audio will be streamed. Brookes is set to keep listeners well informed in the afternoon by summarising the key court revelations and talking points of the day. Copies of the daily audio streams will also be made available to international listeners across different time zones.
At the same time, the public will be able to access live audio of the trial from the Talk Radio 702, 567 CapeTalk, 94.7 Highveld Stereo and 94.5 Kfm Streaming Apps. This service will be available to all iOS and Android devices.
Not to be outdone, media monitoring company Data Driven Insight (DDI) is offering a daily a daily summarised analysis of the Pistorius case. DDI will monitor media covering the event and provide an overview of issues that were reported on, such as guns, cellular phones, pornography, bathroom door, main role players in the case, publications reporting most coverage on the matter and give an overview on speculation in social media worldwide, The company monitors social media, publications, radio stations, television channels and online news media to source the data on the case.
DDI Africa will also monitor the amount of times the words ‘guilty’ and ‘innocent’ are mentioned in the media, thus providing a Guilt/Innocence Meter for the case. Follow @DDIAfrica or #DDIonOscar for insights or bookmark http://www.ddiafrica.com/ddi-Oscar
Links, hashtags and commentators to follow
Links to EWN’s station apps:
94.7 Highveld Stereo
Talk Radio 702
Some Twitter hashtags to follow:
Twitter handles to follow:
Oscar Pistorius @OscarPistorius
Carl Pistorius @carlpistorius
Oscar PR team @oscarhardtruth
Anneliese Burgess @annelieseburgess
Derek Watts @DerekWatts
Bongani Bingwa: @bonglez
Devi Sankaree-Govender @Devi_SG
South African Press Association @SapaNews
Karen Maughan @KarenMaughan
Annika Larsen @AnnikaLarsen1
Cathy Mohlahlana @CathyMohlahlana
Gushwell Brooks @GushwellBrooks
David O’Sullivan @702David
Barry Bateman @BarryBateman
Gia Nicolaids @GiaNicolaides
Mandy Wiener @mandywiener
The Citizen reporter @citireporter
The Citizen @TheCitizen_News
Graeme Raubenheimer @GraemeRauby
SABC TELEVISION, RADIO
Chriselda Lewis @Chriseldalewis
Liela Magnus @LielaMagnus
Busi Radebe @BuziRadebe
THE NEW AGE
Hasina Gouri @MiZz_haSiNa
New Age @The_New_Age
ANN 7 @ANN7tv
City Press @City_Press
Bienne Huisman @biennehuisman
Charl du Plessis @CharlduPlessc
POWER987 News @POWER987News
Alex Crawford @AlexCrawfordSky
Jacaranda Newsteam @JacaNews
Daily Voice @DailyVoiceSA
Emma Sadleir @EmmaSadleir