Pitch perfect

  • Kim Johnson - 19 March 2013

The Daily Sun takes its readership into account when communicating HIV information.

See that daily newspaper in your hand? It’s tailored to you. Like any good product a newspaper has its target market. Black, white, working class, academic, young, old - there’s a paper that cuts its content according to your cloth.

Your newspaper of choice is filled with news, views and issues that interest and apply to you, the consumer. That’s why the Sunday Times is a far cry from the Daily Sun - they tap into vastly different markets, with vastly different lives, lifestyles and interests.

Taking the demographics of a paper’s readership into account is particularly important when communicating HIV-related news and information.

The article ‘Mums take baby steps’ published in Thursday’s Daily Sun is an example of an HIV report that takes how HIV affects its readers into account.

Although it failed to fully capitalise on the opportunity to communicate information on PMTCT, the article featured basic information for pregnant moms, highlighted the importance of HIV testing during pregnancy and also encouraged women to help their partners get tested too.

Because HIV affects different groups in different ways and to differing degrees, pitching HIV information that is relevant to a particular readership is vital, especially in light of the fact that the media is a key vehicle for creating awareness around HIV-related issues and disseminating HIV information.

In the Daily Sun’s case the article communicated basic HIV information to its largely black, working class readership, which for social, political and material reasons is more vulnerable to HIV infection and its effects.

This is not to say that for example Mail&Guardian readers are not affected by and therefore not interested in HIV, but the fact of the matter is that HIV affects the Mail&Guardian’s tertiary-educated target market in a very different way.

Mail&Guardian readers might be much less likely to be living with HIV but might be concerned about the broader impact HIV has on the economy, for example.

HIV information needs to be on target when it comes to its audience because not hitting the mark represents a missed opportunity to communicate information on what is arguably the greatest health crisis South Africa has faced to date.

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