South Africa: Land is a Hot Topic – Print Media Presents Only One Side of the Story
The land question was at the center of the South African national liberation struggle. The Native Land Act of 1913, restricting blacks from owning and occupying parts of the country, 87% of the land. This is the African majority”pariahs in their native land“, in the 1916 words of Sol Plaatje, founding general secretary of the African National Congress, now South Africa’s ruling party.
To reverse this injustice, the national assembly accepted the demands of various pressure groups in 2018 and started the process. amending article 25 of the constitutiondeals with the restitution and compensation of the dispossessed. Some had claimed that the department prevented land expropriation. Parliament held public hearings across the country to get public input on proposed changes.
This process found wide coverage in the media. However, the voices of ordinary people at public hearings were severely underrepresented in the media. This meant rejecting narrative sources to tell their own stories. In the process, they have been dispossessed and marginalized, forced to look at themselves through the prism of others.
As the land reform debate rages, there are signs that the commercial press is marginalizing alternative anti-Western voices that oppose the current dominant political, social and economic landscape promoted by capitalism. This can be noticed in the views as the cause of the discussion. “uncertainty” and investment tensionIt is common, primarily driven by business and government resources.
commercial press in south africa
South Africa’s media is vast and dominated by four conglomerates – Media24, Arena Holdings, Sekunjalo (Independent Media) and Caxton. While the latest figures paint a bleak picture with circulation falling, the press still has a sizable readership. The circulation is 445,485 physical copies for daily newspapers, 172,348 for weekly newspapers and 550,416 for the weekend.
While there have been changes in media ownership patterns since the end of Apartheid, we discuss this in our latest article. journal article The morality of this press is rooted in apartheid-like economic and ideological beliefs. Thus, voices that oppose dominant ideas are marginalized. The media perpetuates past injustices by raising the views of the economic elite against the dispossessed majority.
Commercial factors such as ownership and financing result in unfair treatment of anti-Western and anti-capitalist rhetoric. The media does not justify the concerns of the dispossessed.
But how exactly do print media represent the land debate? To answer this question, we reviewed articles on “land expropriation” in the commercial press between January and December 2018. Among the newspapers we reviewed are: Work day, Argus, Citizen, Cape Times, Financial Mail, reporter and Sowetan. What emerged was an overwhelmingly negative scope of discourse, dominated by what we would consider elite sources. The commercial press has failed to play a democratic rather than impartial role. This undermines the public’s trust in the media.
Framing of land expropriation
This negative coverage stems from five themes: land grabs, private property rights, food insecurity, negative consequences for the economy, and investor confidence.
These themes betray the media’s leaning towards the ideas of the ruling class. On close analysis, it turns out that the way the press represents the land debate is linked to its historical place in the capitalist economy.
For example, by interviewing and quoting elitist sources from the media, academia and business, he used the “land grab” framework to raise the alarm in numerous sensational headlines that the debate was scaring investors away and hurting the country. It is suggested that the country will follow the same path of “destruction” as Zimbabwe. land expropriation.
The “private property rights” framework was used equally. The media leaned heavily on European classical liberalism, which perceived the protection of private property as the primary aim of government. Attempts to correct colonial injustices have been shown to have dire economic consequences. The narrative of “private property” remained unchallenged.
Explanatory bias and narrow neoliberal framing
Framing the land debate is to blame”explanation biasThis is when the media avoids exposing the underlying causes of major problems. The media fails to critically address the land issue and the wider debate of redistributive justice in the country. Claims of impartiality overshadow a neoliberal bias.
Many of the stories reviewed were written in a style that did not support land expropriation. Instead of a framework that recognizes the dispossessed, a narrow neoliberal framework was used.
When parliament holds public hearings on the land debate in 2018 To give ordinary people a chance to express their views, their voices have been severely underrepresented in the media. The dispossessed were forced to look at themselves through the prism of others. The privileged spoke on behalf of the marginalized by reinforcing unequal power relations in society.
Capitalism and media ownership
Although South Africa’s media ownership has gradually shifted to black-owned companies in the wake of democracy in 1994The financial power to control and define the overall objectives and scope is in the hands of powerful companies with ties to global capital.
The distorted reportage in the land discussion can also be explained by media ownership and funding. The causal relationship between ownership and media content is not always discernible. However, many media researchers relationship between ownership and media texts.
The framework of the land debate contributes to rooting the injustices of colonialism and apartheid.
Mandla J. RadebeAssociate Professor and Director, University of Johannesburg
Sarah ChiumbuAssociate Professor, University of Johannesburg
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