All the data you can eat
Umbilical Ruminations

On information asymmetry

Adam Oxford
Adam Oxford
2020-06-05

There’s a comparison to be made between the murder of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers in the US last week, which has sparked nationwide protests, and Collins Khosa — the Johannesburg resident who was allegedly killed by South African National Defense Force soldiers in April. Both deaths are utterly senseless, indicative of security forces out of control and blatant racism at the heart of institutions which nominally exist to protect citizens, yet fail in that duty of care.

From our point of view they also demonstrate differences in the accessibility of information. The New York Times was able to put together a comprehensive visual recreation of Floyd’s murder (warning – the video contains footage of the murder and is very, very disturbing) within days of the incident, because journalists had access to a variety of official and unofficial sources of video, audio and data. We know that in the US, there were only 27 days in 2019 during which someone didn’t die at the hands of police.

Compare that to the limitations encountered by South African journalists covering the Khosa case. Video footage of the crime was apparently deleted, witness interviews not conducted, and even court affidavits are disputed as final documents by government.

While we unequivocally support the protests sweeping the US, we are very aware that our fellow South Africans also cannot breathe.

Adam Oxford
  • Adam Oxford is a freelance journalist, media consultant and civic tech enthusiast. He also works closely with startups developing solutions to access to justice problems.

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