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Media History Essay

2011 words - 9 pages

The South African Press played a fundamental role in keeping society informed. It defended and protected the freedom of expression in South Africa during the Apartheid years by providing news in which there were, “possibilities of escaping censorship and suppression of free speech” (Grotan & Svedsen, 2001: 1). Articles that liberal and Independent English speaking Press journalists wrote during these times were censored or blacked out if they did not follow or defied or even threatened the government’s policies and existence (Fourie, 2002). Regardless of the South African government's persistent claims that the media in South Africa was free, the independent media in South Africa was ...view middle of the document...

The coverage of issues in the African townships by organisation such as the Rand Daily mail offered a platform where concerns about “racism and inequality” (Harber,1999:1) could be addressed thus giving truthful insight to white South Africans of the time that were unaware of issues that were happening in their country. Organisations such as the Rand Daily Mail published news that was progressively verbal and out spoken against apartheid. The newspaper had “broken with a conservative tradition” (Harber, 1999:3) of producing news that was for the status-quo of the government and rather exhibited non-racism and quality liberal journalism against government censorship. An example of this type of news is the publication of the deputy editor, Benjamin Pogrund’s report in the 1960’s of the prison conditions. In him publishing the article of prison conditions, he and the organisation were detrimentally mistreated and prosecuted for it. That did not stop the newspaper because the 1976 uprising gave the newspaper several extensive coverage of events and even when “Steve Biko was killed in detention in 1977 the paper devoted pages and pages to verbatim coverage of the inquest” (Harber, 1999:2). It could be said according to Harber that, “in the face of increasing government censorship, the paper consistently gave more coverage to the emergence of the black labour movement” (1999:3). The reporting and exposure of stories that government did not want published encouraged international denunciation and the strong requirement of stricter sanctions to be obligatory in South Africa in order to abolish apartheid.

Sustaining press freedom during apartheid was a tough thing to do because it came with dreadful consequences for liberal newspaper organisations and journalists. The South African alternative press in the 1980’s served as a significant constituent in undermining the apartheid government’s misinformation campaigns and propaganda against state owned South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) which served “to provide daily propaganda in support of government measures” (Harber, 1999:1) during apartheid times aiming to, “portray apartheid in a positive light to the world (Fourie, 2002: 46). The alternative press had been functioning in surroundings of continuous harassment and coercion by the apartheid system and police, but the South African press pioneered at the liberation struggle through publications such as The Rand Daily Mail, The Weekly Mail and Drum to name, but a few (Louw, 2003) these newspapers believed in reporting on issues that the conventional or mainstream newspapers did not report on.
Newspapers such as The Rand Daily Mail, The Weekly Mail and Drum are publications that fall under alternative press. Alternative press according to Fourie, “becomes active when political, economic, social or cultural views of certain social groups are excluded from the media market” (2007:40). The Alternative press during apartheid aimed at being...

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