This paper explores stakeholders' views regarding the question of whether HIV/AIDS coverage in the South African media should be the product of media advocacy and a proactive agenda for contributing to social change. Twenty-seven newspaper editors, journalists and other key stakeholders with a vested interest in HIV/AIDS coverage in the print media were interviewed during the course of 2002. Two overriding issues were raised by informants for consideration. These were, firstly, the need to balance the journalistic objectives of (a) advocacy and (b) neutrality and, secondly, the need to balance the objectives of (a) advocacy and (b) news value and profitability. Findings suggest that reticence regarding the adoption of an explicit advocacy role regarding HIV/AIDS has much to do with the media's evolving relationship with the post-apartheid government and its controversial approach to HIV/AIDS.
Keywords: editorial policy, news values
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