Brett Davidson's blog

"40 000 prostitutes" - how rumours and lies become 'fact'

I have been puzzled and annoyed by the ongoing repetition in our media, that 40 000 'prostitutes' are set to be trafficked into South Africa ahead of the World Cup.

This figure is continually repeated (and in one instance, an anti-trafficking video featuring several South African soapie stars, inflated further to 100 000). This despite its being a complete fabrication, with no basis in fact, and no evidence available to substantiate it.

To pay or not to pay

In my work supporting NGOs in media advocacy, there's one thing that comes up again and again in conversations, but it's almost never addressed in the several toolkits and handbooks one can find on engaging the media.

Everyone working on the ground acknowledges it's a problem, but nobody seems to have much advice about how to deal with it.  I'm talking about the fact that in many countries, it's difficult to get into the news media without paying for coverage. I think it's high time that we had some serious discussion about this, and how to deal with it.

Using online media can boost exposure in traditional media

When I talk to scientists and activists, I often encourage them to think about new media (the internet, social media such as Facebook and Twitter) as well as the traditional media (newspapers, radio, etc) as a means of getting their message out. Though people do get excited, they question the reach of such media, in countries where internet access is very slow, or not widespread.

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