Tag Archives: City Press

Commercial news media, like the SABC, also answer to his master’s voice

This post originally appeared on Mail & Guardian’s Thought Leader group blog.

Everyone’s favourite whipping boy, the SABC, has done it again. Unspoken commands from the outside have barged in and, at the last minute, dictated an editorial policy. Either both the Metro FM show’s producer and host neglected to acquaint themselves with the said policy, or the policy did not exist until five minutes before the show was to go on air. In any case, unlike his 16th century forebear, this whipping boy is being publicly flayed for his own misdeed, not the prince’s. Yet strangely the prince, commercial news media, appears the most pious throughout the debacle, when he, too, commits an as egregious an offence.

On Wednesday City Press editor Ferial Haffajee tweeted: “Are the news values of public broadcasting different to commercial news values? If so, how?”

The short answer is no. There should be little difference. Values in public and commercial news should flow from the mission underlying why news is gathered and disseminated in the first place, which is to provide citizens with timely and accurate information to allow them to make informed decisions on the issues of the day. The more intricate and precise answer is that, as with the SABC, voices from the outside also intrude into commercial news rooms and affect decisions on the quality and nature of information provided to the public. Often the decisions swayed by these outside voices results in a compromise of commercial news values. Continue reading

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On how black anger and white obliviousness are used to foreground race in post-apartheid South Africa

My essay on how black anger, white obliviousness and the expedience of politics have foregrounded race in public dialogue in South Africa has just been published on Mampoer Shorts. It’s a 10,000-word “short”, so snazzy book-like cover aside, you should be able to read it in under two hours. It builds on an opinion piece I wrote earlier this year for the Daily Maverick at the height of debacle over Brett Murray’s ‘The Spear’. Read it, give me your thoughts, and if I haven’t died of shame from the self-promotion I’ll be engaging in during the coming weeks, consider me immortal. Also, in that instance, let me know if you’d like to be involved in a follow-on project I’ll be doing along the same theme next year. But for now, here’s an excerpt. The full essay is available on Mampoer for $2.99. Continue reading

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Zuma’s ‘clever blacks’: Lost in media translation

Considering the Babel of languages spoken in South Africa and how each developed verbal cues and connotations in state-sanctioned isolation, I think we’d all do well to ask, before assuming, if we’ve understood what the other is saying. This goes doubly so in instances when we think the other person has said something preposterously outrageous, as is the case with the ‘clever blacks’ comment City Press attributed to president Jacob Zuma.

Addressing the House of Traditional Leaders, Zuma said, “Some Africans who become too clever take a position (where) they become the most eloquent in criticising themselves about their own traditions and everything.” He went on to urge the House to play a role in helping Africans remember their roots.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with any of what Zuma said in this sentence, but City Press pounced on this, running the story as their Sunday lead under the headline “Zuma scolds ‘clever’ blacks”. The Sunday lead is usually reserved for the most scandalous, most riveting, most newsworthy story. Puzzling then that this fairly innocuous comment would receive such prominence in a speech riddled with other more shocking comments, particularly the double-speak on the unconstitutional Traditional Courts Bill. Continue reading

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