Title: The State vs. Oscar Pistorius: a critical analysis of media coverage and the court of public opinion

Authors: Abraham Gert Van Der Vyver

Addresses: Department of Information Technology, Monash University, South Africa

Abstract: The court of public opinion has undergone a revolutionary makeover since the advent of the social media. These changes have seldom been more clearly reflected than in the reaction of the public and the media during the Oscar Pistorius trial. In 2014, Oscar Pistorius a leading South African runner, who competed at the Paralympic Games and the 2012 Summer Olympics, went on trial for the murder of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp 2013. Steenkamp was shot by Pistorius at his Pretoria home. Pistorius said that he mistook her for an intruder. On 25 February 2014, the High Court in Pretoria ruled that the entire trial may be broadcast live via audio and or live television. Cyberspace was turned into a court of public opinion with Facebook and Twitter carrying millions of comments. The researcher qualitatively compared tweets collected from the #Oscar Pistorius handle from members of the formal media with those of citizen journalists. The results of this analysis are embedded in this paper.

Keywords: Oscar Pistorius; court of public opinion; professional journalism; citizen journalism; Twitter; metajournalism; public sphere; Habermas; media coverage; critical analysis; social media; public relations; PR; trial; audience; cellular phones.

DOI: 10.1504/IJTPL.2017.085234

International Journal of Technology Policy and Law, 2017 Vol.3 No.1, pp.16 - 27

Published online: 17 Jul 2017 *

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