Media Monday Bulletin - The Spear outrage; What is Youth Wage Subsidy?; “Brown envelope” journalism

Posted: 21 May 2012 | News - Newsletter | Categories: Race, Xenophobia and Ethnicity, Democracy and Governance, Media Freedom and Performance

Here’s what we have for you this Media Monday:

·         The Spear divides the nation

·         Youth Wage Subsidy – what is it again?

·         The Sunday Times  and “brown envelope” journalism

The Spear and the uproar...and the media

It has been called insulting; some said it was a test for democracy and a test for our Constitution as it pits the right to dignity against freedom of expression. It’s also been referred to as an attack on African morality and on black culture. Some even went on to ‘unpack’ it “from a racialised and colonial perspective” and concluded that it uses “an insensitive and cruel colonial construct” to critique the president’s leadership, while others said it is aimed at creating social change.

It has been on almost everyone’s lips and making waves in all kinds of media. The ruling African National Congress (ANC) has approached the courts to force the Goodman Gallery in Johannesburg to remove it from display and for the City Press newspaper to remove it from its website. And the last time we checked, the newspaper was sticking to its guns.

It is titled “The Spear”, and has divided the nation!

But we are more interested in what the media have said about it, or how they reported on it. After all, we are Media Matters!

While some had the guts enough to run with the story and included the portrait with its bare bits, some chickened out a bit and censored it. Is it because of the resultant uproar already created by the artwork (if you see it as such, that is), or because of it being at deliberation of the justice system? Is it because of difference in audiences and their tastes for what is news (and newsworthy), an editorial decision maybe, or just plain chickening out?

Why is that? What do you think? Facebook and Tweet us...

What exactly is the Youth Wage Subsidy all about?

The youth wage subsidy was the bone of contention when a sea of red (trade union federation Cosatu) clashed with a sea of blue (the Democratic Alliance) sometime last week. It all started with the DA staging a march to the Cosatu headquarters in Braamfontein, Johannesburg when the stand-off began, with Cosatu supporters forming a man-made wall to stop the DA marchers from going a step further than Cosatu allowed.

Johannesburg city centre was turned into a battlefield, literally, as reports coming from the stand-off were that  blood was also flowing after missiles of rocks were pelted into another group by another one (we are not sure which did what as we were not there), and maybe even a retaliation...

But that aside, what exactly is this youth wage subsidy that was the cause of the stand-off? There was extensive coverage of the march with both parties involved, and #YouthWageSubsidy trending on social networks. Amid various media reporting on the march, were the right questions asked about the youth wage subsidy phenomenon and what it is? Did the media explain to you exactly what they were talking about, why the DA was marching and Cosatu defending its stance on it?

Consider this reader’s account of what s/he thinks of the youth wage subsidy is, based on a “very little bit of reading” s/he has done. Has the media also attempted to do the same and tell you what it’s all about, and arguments from both parties involved? Find us on Facebook and Twitter and give us your views on the matter...

Wanted: evidence of “brown envelope” journalism

The issue of the so-called “brown envelope” journalism reared its head again recently, with the Sunday Times newspaper yesterday dismissing allegations of its journalists being implicated in acts of “brown envelope” journalism – a journalistic activity which involves transfer of various types of rewards from sources to the reporter. Through its editor Ray Hartley, the publication denied that its journalists were paid from a crime intelligence slush fund to write an article casting suspicion on senior police officials involved in the investigation of former crime intelligence boss Richard Mdluli.

The National Press Club (NPC) viewed the allegations as very worrying and serious and called for authorities to get to the bottom of the matter. The NPC also called on media houses suspected of being involved to launch their own investigations.

In a front-page opinion article yesterday, the Sunday Times demanded evidence from the police that the paper’s journalists received bribes. The South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) said in a statement that they viewed the allegations of journalists receiving bribes in a serious light, and asked the police for more information about such allegations.

But what are the chances that there will be any evidence brought forward? Isn’t it a point in any act of bribery and/or corruption to hide evidence, or better yet, to make sure there isn’t any evidence available at all? Does that mean if there is no evidence brought forward by the police, all will be well in the Sunday Times and the media world and no internal investigations will be conducted by both the paper or media houses and Sanef?

We will wait to hear your opinion on Facebook and Twitter on this.