Saturday, July 12, 2014

"Reeva Steenkamp was my homegirl" (but not exactly my friend)

It disturbs me when I see this.

No, not because Engler wrote about her.  Also not because he immediately provides a disclaimer [He says he's her friend, sort've, but not actually, but it's implied that she is 'my friend'.]  Actually Engler is one of her Facebook friends (I checked).

No, none of that is particularly incriminating.  But something is.  Do you see it? Look closer...

It's the date and time.  We know now Reeva Steenkamp was shot to death on Valentine's Day (14 February 2013) at very close to 03:17.

But the time of the article is 07:28 and the breaking news tweet is:

The second breaking news tweet is five minutes later:

I could follow the conspiracy theory and ask why does it actually show 5 hours earlier on the screengrabs (ie 03:03 and 03:08, but that would put the tweets before the murder (alleged, right?) but I'm pretty sure there is a techy reason for that.

 I'm more perturbed, firstly by Hagen Engler's timing, and secondly, by the Daily Maverick.  It's possible Hagen simply made a mistake when he uploaded his story, or that an editor, or subeditor at the Daily Maverick editor back-tracked the time, in order to attract google spiders looking for the earliest news reports.  This would allow them to preempt Beeld and possibly Radio702's online coverage.  If that's true, and it was purposeful, that's opportunistic and dishonest journalism right there. You're reporting in the public domain about someone who has been shot to death, a crime, and you're going to play games with the time?

I'm not going to deal with those ethics, there's a time and place for that.  For now, I'm coming back to Engler.  What if Daily Maverick's clocks were right, and he wrote this story at the time published (it's still the present time on the site, if it was incorrect, surely it would have been changed].

Even if Engler wrote his story at 9am or 10am or 11am, that is a pretty damn blistering fast turn around on telling the world about 'my homegirl'.  Reeva was shot around 3am.  If this story was published the time it says it was published, it means Engler must have been working on it between 5am and 6am. It's also possible that Engler is buddies with one of the first people Oscar called, Justin Divaris, Oscar's best friend.

"At 3 h 55 Oscar called me: "I shot Reeva! I shot Reeva! '' he cried on the phone. A neighbor then took the handset: "You'd better come, this is serious! ''  ' between Johannesburg and Pretoria, the wide ribbon of asphalt fully lit at night, has Divaris dark. It was he who introduced Oscar Reeva, three months earlier, on November 4, 2012. Incredulous Here he looks at the scene from the sidewalk. He can see the body of Reeva lying in the living room.And, turning his head toward the garage, discover the champion's head in his hands, his shoulders shaking with spasms.
The day before, he lunched with him! He had even offered him a night with the guys while Samantha, his own wife, very close to Reeva, called on his side to make a canvas they getaway.
Not sure why this is published on a French website.  But even Oscar has testified to calling Divaris. If the Daily Maverick's time is right, the only other logical conclusion is Divaris either called Engler, or called someone who subsequently told Engler. Engler then busted his butt to get his story out as soon as possible.  What's interesting is that it appeared on the Daily Maverick, which I know pays peanuts, and which suggests to me - I'm speculating, he was turned down by the major dailies.  And for good reason, this is particularly poor taste.  Her blood was not even cold.

One could check, given that FHM was all about the laddish lifestyle, and Divaris' company was all about fast and flashy cars (a perfect fit for FHM) I wouldn't be surprised if Divaris and Engler were more than aquaintances.  Just look at it.  Divaris - Engler - Steenkamp/Pistorius - Divaris - Engler? Foreseably Divaris may have known or suspected the 'scoop' (which he had) was worth a lot of money, and so helped out his buddy.  Speculation.  I don't know. What's not speculation was that this was uploaded at such breakneck speed, then uploaded to Engler's blog the very next day,
But Engler wasn't done yet, that afternoon he did press for AP saying:

02/15/2013 05:33 PM

"The way I knew her she had had a very long relationship before. So, she wasn't really an opportunist, isn't really the way I understood her. So, you know, one never knows. She is a beautiful woman, so perhaps Oscar was taking his opportunity, but that's just speculation, you know.

Maybe you were too, Hagen.

On 25 February, 11 days after her death, Engler blogs about how much money her images are worth,[it appears on the Daily Maverick] and whether Reeva's family are due any benefit for the use of his images.

But where did these images come from? And does Reeva’s estate, or her family, get to benefit from this massive use of her image?
It appears not.
Copyright in images as intellectual property, while indeed a fraught issue, is mainly an area of contestation between photographers and employers. Usually the creator of the “artistic work”, ie. the photographer, will own copyright in the images. Exceptions are if the images are created in the course of his/her employment. If a client commissions a photographer to take an image, copyright rests with the client.
Writing on the website, intellectual property lawyer Mariette du Plessis points out that these exceptions can all be changed by prior agreement between the photographer and the employer.
Models, though, appear to left out of this arrangement.
Prime sources for Reeva pics have been Tropika Island of Treasure, the branded reality show she was set to appear in at the time of her death. Stills images from the Tropika show have been supplied free to news outlets, although Britain’s The Independent has reported production company Stimulii charging $3 000 a pop to use a video clip from the show, raising questions of profiteering from her death.
Local picture agency Gallo Images has been selling images of Reeva, including images of her shot for Media24 magazine title FHM. An FHM bikini pic of Reeva graced the cover of Britain’s The Sun on Friday morning, prompting a Twitter storm over the ethics of featuring a murder victim in her bikini.
“Reeva pics are selling. But at about the same rate as any other celebrity,” said a cagey Gallo MD, Pam Wills. “We’ve had lots of requests for pics of her and Oscar.”
The ethics of selling images of dead people is a minor subplot to the shock and outrage of the unfolding Oscar-Reeva saga. It lives alongside such other considerations of commerce vs commiseration as should the Tropika show be broadcast, should Oscar’s sponsors drop him, and should journalists camp outside the late girl’s family home to film her shattered dad and add an extra dimension of tragedy to this grim tale.
Our morbid fascination has been piqued, and a long-established industry is ready to feed that. Some of us will benefit from it. Reeva Steenkamp will not.

And on July 1, just a few days ago, Engler writes this for the Sunday Times:

 I felt some people should say something about her, what she was like as a person.
So I tweeted something. Three words, along the lines of “She was lovely”.This precipitated a DM: Did you know this girl? Would you do an interview?
I said yes. And thus began my spell in the media spotlight as “Someone who’s prepared to speak”.
I did some interviews. The interviews precipitated more interviews. And the more I did, the more my number was passed around by journos around the world. I soon realized that, thanks to the global fame of Paralympian Oscar Pistorius – now accused of Reeva’s murder – the appetite for news of the case was insatiable.
In the days after her death, I could mark the passage of the sun across the face of the earth by the calls I was getting on my cell. It went New Zealand, Japan, Australia, Singapore, Norway, France, UK, USA… I was woken up at 4am for radio phoners, newspapers called constantly – the Independent, the Mail, the Telegraph, The Guardian, L’Equipe… I forget who all.
Where can we get pictures? Remember, we met the once? We’ll pay you for your time (that never happened) I got calls from correspondents who sounded cute and sexy on the phone. Cool people you wouldn’t mind having a beer with…
Softie that I am, I’d always break down and meet them. Sometimes a TV crew would occupy my home for four or five hours. I met crews in their homes, at restaurants, hotels. And after a while I began to feel some kind of way.
Sure, I was telling Reeva’s side of the story, but I felt a little, well, used. 
You might look and feel a bit like I did once the world’s media were finished with me. Wide-eyed. Paranoid. Embarrassed.
Can I be honest.  I don't buy it.  I don't buy the level of friendship he is portraying.  He turned the poor girl away twice out of the three times she approached the magazine, which to me shows less about his friendship with her and more about the average tendency of the average editor to be a dick.  Apologies to the good and decent editors out there (I'm sure you do exist), if this isn't you.

Writing this story as fast as possible to crow about his relationship with Reeva is sufficiently doos-like behaviour, if his clever (but actually not so clever) obfuscations about his friend, but sort've friend, special friend, different friends didn't feel so ill-timed and ill-motivated.

Perhaps I'm being unfair?  Or unfairly attacking Engler? Have a look at the top three or four comments in response to Engler's story, which is media opportunism - vile and cruel - at its worst.

One comment sums up the spirit of just how inappropriate (desperate) Engler is here:
Shallow and glib...insubstantial...your claim to fame in knowing her...hilarious that you should distance yourself from the superficial model industry...

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