Election coverage for Wednesday 15 April 2009 included a variety of different stories.  However, the most prominent were stories about South African’s voting overseas.  Although this was covered far more prominently on television, we are likely to see more coverage in the press tomorrow.  An innovative elections story in The Star was tainted with xenophobic statements from a resident in an area recently affected by xenophobic violence.  The statements were not contradicted.

Top election stories for the day:
1. South African voters abroad get a chance to vote and Dlamini-Zuma votes in Geneva:
• Business Day, p. 3 (two stories);
• E-tv, item 1;
• SABC 3, item 1;
• Sowetan, p. 6; and,
• The Star, p. 6.
SABC3 gave great prominence to the story, with footage from various South African embassies abroad.

An interesting thread in the day’s coverage is politics in sports.  This is mainly as a result of Cricket South Africa pulling Cope advertising, as it is against their policy to display party political adverts.  However, there was also a story in the Business Day about Agri-Forum’s call on the South African Rugby Union and SA Rugby to distance itself from Peter de Villier’s support for the ANC, in order to preserve a distance between sports and politics.  Given the significant issues around transformation in and around sport, as well as the various controversies that have focused on quota’s, government interference, the use of emblems, including the springbok etc, sport would be a very interesting election angle for media to pursue, and seek the views of the different political parties.  It also seems ironic that Cricket South Africa can have a policy about refusing to carry party political adverts, yet at the same time happily support and endorse alcohol advertising, especially given the significant number of children that watch and support cricket.

The Star has started what seems to be an innovative series in asking the opinions of voters from two different communities located alongside each other, in this case – Diepsloot and Dainfern.  The story shows a picture of two worlds, with two very different sets of priorities.  Both will be using their vote as their voice in the upcoming elections.  Diepsloot has high unemployment rates, a lack of housing and poor sanitation.  Dainfern is prosperous with concerns about crime and good governance.  Members of both communities expressed xenophobic sentiments, which are quoted and left unchallenged.  Although the piece is a good initiative, the uncritical repetition of xenophobic sentiments allows stereotypes to go unchallenged and may be harmful given the recent xenophobic attacks in Diepsloot.

Another initiative that also seeks to give voice to citizens is the e-tv election bus, which canvasses the opinions and the problems of people on the ground.  These initiatives provide some balance to the predominant focus of coverage on political leaders.

For more information please contact Sandra Roberts on 084 9000 344 or 011 788 1278 or William Bird on 082 887 1370.
The Daily Reports are made possible by the Open Society Foundation. And the Free Voice Foundation

Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) has monitored every democratic election in South Africa. This year we are doing the same, providing daily and weekly reports on media coverage of election news, as well as MMA’s Election Media Ratings

The following media are reviewed in the compilation of this report: Beeld, Business Day, Daily Sun, etv primetime news; SABC 3 primetime news; Sowetan, The Citizen, and The Star.