My colleagues and I often care for patients suffering from hallucinations, prophesying, and claiming to speak with God, among other symptoms—in mental health care, it’s sometimes very difficult to tell apart religious belief from mental illness…. Our conclusions frequently stem from the behaviors we see before us. Take an example of a man who walks into an emergency department, mumbling incoherently. He says he’s hearing voices in his head, but insists there’s nothing wrong with him. He hasn’t used any drugs or alcohol. If he were to be evaluated by mental health professionals, there’s a good chance he might be diagnosed with a psychotic disorder like schizophrenia. But what if that same man were deeply religious? What if his incomprehensible language was speaking in tongues?
The New York Times has an audience that is interested in these issues. Thus it invests in legal writers, journalists, people who can specialise in reporting on the law. They probably have legal qualifications, perhaps even some trial experience, perhaps they even clerked for a judge at one point. Here, Business Day has two legal reporters. And that’s about it. Independent Newspapers in Gauteng has a couple, but for most media organisations, it doesn’t make sense to specialise in that way. Why send a reporter to a court case that takes an entire day, or week, when that same person can do two or three political press conferences? Why bother when your readership isn’t even that interested in legal issues that don’t directly pertain to what Najwa Peterson was wearing in court that day? – Stephen Groottes at The Daily Maverick, responding to an article on this Blog.BACK TO TOP