Media Monday - hot topics and topics that make us hopping mad! 26 March 2012

Posted: 26 March 2012 | News - Newsletter | Categories: Democracy and Governance, Media Freedom and Performance

On the menu this Media Monday:

·         Is The New Age guilty of factionalist reporting?;

·         Human Rights Day coverage: a case of media fatigue?;

·         DTT awareness campaign underway, and;

·         Zille’s “refugee” comment.

Malema accuses The New Age of factional political reporting – is he right?

ANC Youth League president Julius Malema decided, last week, to honour his nomination by the National Press Club as Newsmaker of the Year for 2011, after snubbing the nomination last year. Malema shared the title with the Public Protector, Thuli Madonsela. It is not really the nomination and his sudden decision to honour it that got our attention, but what he said in his “award acceptance speech” thereafter.

“Juju” allegedly took a swipe at The New Age newspaper, accusing the publication of taking sides in the ANC’s factional politics in its reporting. Malema was quoted as saying:

For sure you know that there are some recently launched newspapers after Polokwane conference, that have taken sides and they are not ashamed. And the New Age, that is what it is ...belongs to a faction and promotes individuals and their factional agendas.

The New Age, of course, refused to take it lying down and reacted to the “Malema attack” in its editorial today (Monday). The publication said that Malema was using its name to grab attention and headlines to try and salvage his political career, which is seemingly on the rocks, and also saying that Malema has a history of fighting the media. The newspaper used the editorial, also, to state how it is independent and objective, and proud of it too.

Malema’s accusations of factional reporting by The New Age come after Professor Tawana Kupe’s call for the media to be extra vigilant. Prof Kupe said the media should avoid using anonymous sources so as to make sure that “they are not being used in political battles by individuals, groups and factions to advance their own electoral strategy.”

Editor of The Daily Dispatch, Brendan Boyle, also indicated the importance of the political battle that looms ahead of ANC’s National Conference in Mangaung later this year. Boyle also called for the media caught up in this political battle to be absolutely vigilant.

Is this a case of media becoming entangled in these whole ANC politics ahead of Mangaung, and finding themselves unintentionally being used in political factional battles ala Kupe and Boyle, or intentionally if there is proof of Malema’s accusations against The New Age? So the question is how have you found The New Age’s coverage of ANC politics ahead of Mangaung? Is it factional as Malema said, or fair? And how have you found the media reporting in general? Is the media as vigilant as it should be to guard against factional reporting?

Give us your experiences of media’s reporting on ANC politics and factions via Facebook and Twitter...

Human Rights Day coverage – is there media fatigue?

As South Africa commemorated and celebrated Human Rights Day last week on Wednesday (21 March 2012), was there enough media coverage of the day, its historical context, the events on the day that let to its commemoration, and what it means?

We realised that the spotlight was stolen by service delivery protests around the country on this day, including in Sharpeville, the actual area in which what is commemorated on Human Rights Day occurred. Much more spotlight was stolen by the debate around where official celebrations for the day should take place. The people of Sharpeville protested against government’s decision to stage official Human Rights Day celebration in Soweto, and not in Sharpeville as they had expected.

Some felt the people of Sharpeville were justified in their protest against this day being taken away from them, and that the government had no right to move the celebrations to Soweto. And then, of course, there are those like Sandile Memela who asked “What do the people of Sharpeville mean when they say the government cannot move the commemoration of what happened in Sharpeville to Soweto?”

Which side of the fence do you stand in this whole issue? Should Human Rights Day be celebrated in Sharpeville or anywhere in the country as the fight was fought across the country and not just in Sharpeville?

And while busy gnawing that bone, let us also look at how the media covered (and covers) the events of the day. Is much information on the day provided to remind the people what the day is about? Is the day’s coverage reduced to nothing but just where the celebrations were, who was in attendance, and who said what, while ignoring the real issues? Is the media showing signs of fatigue in covering Human Rights Day, or any other public holiday for that matter; and if so, why? Is the media getting tired of saying the same thing year in, year out? Was there a way to cover service delivery protests in the context of human rights provisions in the constitution?  Facebook and Tweet us with your views and comments...

Digital Terrestrial Migration Awareness Campaign kicks off (or NOT)

The Sunday World newspaper yesterday carried an advertisement by the Department of Communications with details about digital migration. In the many “tweet-up” events that Media Matters attended and took part in, there have been talks about kick-starting a public awareness campaign for a while now to school the people about the mystery (to many, at least) that is digital migration. Is this the campaign?

We visited the Go Digital SA website to find out the more information about digital migration, only to find the website is old and not updated. There is a section about the cost of set-top boxes (STBs) there, and it is stated that the final price is still to be determined. If this is indeed an awareness campaign, is it not a bit premature to kick-start while details still remain unclear, especially with the issue of cost to the public? According to the website, STBs should be available during the first quarter of 2010! What year is this again?

Anyway, we only saw these ads in certain newspapers but haven’t heard anything about an awareness campaign being rolled out. Have you heard something about it? Why is there no (or less) media coverage on it? Is now a good time to be going to the public to tell them about the “Ws & H” of digital migration when there is still so much still hanging in the balance around digital migration?

Facebook and Tweet us with directions on where to look for any information regarding the campaign. Or we will just have to “check the papers” next week for more information as the ads prompts us to do. And by the way, the ad we saw has no contact numbers people can call for information or website details. It says calls for people to “Follow the Go Digital logo” featured in the ad, and we Googled “Go Digital” to find the outdated information above. So, let the waiting games begin – maybe we will tell you more next week after checking the papers next week for more...

Zille’s alleged “refugee” comment sparks outrage

Western Cape premier and DA leader Helen Zille allegedly said something along the lines of Eastern Capetonians in the Western Cape being “refugees”. The media caught the story and it was ”refugee” headlines galore. Social networking sites were also abuzz with “refugee" debates and discussions (together with outrage). Let's not even mention the racial debate it eventually turned out to be, not forgetting the political side of it that also reared its head.

Following that, a SABC news crew took cameras to the Western Cape streets and spoke to a couple of people in the Western Cape who were originally from the Eastern Cape. Those spoken to were not happy about being referred to as refugees, of course.

But hasn’t the SABC ignored more pertinent issues with this issue? How about going a little bit deeper into what prompted the people to leave Eastern Cape and go seek “refuge” in the Western Cape? It’s been in the news that the education system in the Eastern Cape is in shambles. Is that why people are moving to W. Cape; to seek better education? Or is it for better job opportunities? What are government officials (except Zille, of course) saying about this and attributing the movement to? And experts and NGOs, what about some comments from them to shed more light on the issue? We appreciate your views and comments on Facebook and Twitter regarding this and other issues spoken to in this week’s bulletin...