The Thembisa 10 fiasco analysis with Media expert, William Bird

The Thembisa 10 fiasco analysis with Media expert, William Bird

The Media Monitoring Africa Director breaks down the journalistic faults in the Thembisa 10 story which has been running for the past two weeks.

Thembisa 10 story analysis

After a story was published first by the Piet Rampedi on IOL news, reporting a record-breaking birth of decuplets, social media and the media in general have gone through a rollercoaster of versions of the story. Media expert, William Bird highlights how it may be a case requiring media authorities' intervention. 

William Bird is regularly accessed in the media on a range of media focused issues. In his twelve years as director of MMA William has helped MMA grow it from a small 3 people driven organisation to a committed team of 16 people, with a clear vision and dedicated programme areas. William’s knowledge of media monitoring and commitment to deepening democracy in South Africa and the continent has ensured his expertise is internationally recognised. This is why he was the perfect candidate to consult regarding the Thembisa 10 story on a media ethics angle.  

READ MORE: 'Father' of the Tembisa 10 admits that there are no babies

The story began to confuse readers when multiple sources started sharing their versions of events - this includes the decuplets' father, Teboho Tsotetsi, the hospital at which the children were allegedly born, the varying government statements denying their knowledge of the story, Teboho Tsotetsi's cheating allegations by his wife and finally the Tsotetsi family.

He does not make a final judgement on the credibility of the Thembisa 10 story but William Bird highlights what makes fake news, as bizarre as it is, spread like wildfire internationally. 

WATCH: Meet 'Carol Blanche' investigating 'Piet' and the Tembisa 10

There are a multiple stories by so may media houses and publications narrating the Thembisa 10 story. In this chat with him, William Bird also breaks down the key investigative measures that media houses could have followed in handling this specific story which could have made it less sensational. 

He highlights that the readers' trust in publications currently hangs on a thread; disappears into the ground should the entire story be fake. 

Listen further to the implications of a fake story on communities and why we should all be critical of this specific Thembisa 10 story: 

The latest news have the decuplets' father sharing that he has not seen the infants and relied on the mother's word that they exist. 

As we all witness this real-life soapie unfold, we can be sure to take most of it with a pinch of salt until solid evidence and proof of the infants' existence is released. 

To report any fake new or disinformation do so on


Main Image Courtesy: Pexels 

Show's Stories