"The South African press is undergoing financial strains similar to those of newspapers in other parts of the world as a result of the growing attraction of social media,"Raymond Louw said Monday at a Cape Town conference of the International Press Institute. "Circulation figures have been badly hit and with the resultant fall-off in revenue, staff numbers have been cut and the scope of news coverage has contracted."
Louw, an IPI World Press Freedom Hero in 2011, is chairman of the South African Chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa and a former editor of the Rand Daily Mail. His remarks were posted on the IPI website later in the week.
Louw continued, "But while the financial future of the press raises concern, there is also growing alarm over attempts to exert political influence over news media. The Gupta family, close friends of President Jacob Zuma who were given special permission to fly in from India a large wedding party to a top security Air Force Base, causing further criticism, has started a daily paper, The New Age, and a 24-hour TV news service, ANN7, both of which are suspected of eventually seeking to promote the ANC government.
"At the state broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC), where allegations have also been made of improper state political influence, the staff has recently been instructed to structure news coverage on a basis of 70% 'positive' and 30% 'negative' material. Though not specifically directed towards news coverage of the government, it would inevitably relate to this coverage. The directive drew accusations that the broadcaster was influenced by government complaints that the media’s emphasis on 'negative' news is 'unpatriotic'.
"There is also disquiet in media circles over the conduct of Dr Iqbal Survé, chairman of Sekunjalo Holdings, a black peoples' consortium which recently bought the Independent media group which owns the largest number of important titles in the country. Survé summarily dismissed editor Alide Dasnois of the daily Cape Times for publishing as a lead story criticism by the public protector of one of Sekunjalo's companies and using a four-page 'wrap-around' to tell the story of Nelson Mandela's death on the same day. . . . "
- allAfrica.com: Africa: World's Media Chiefs Press African Leaders on Freedoms
- Eugene Kwibuka, New Times, Kigali, Rwanda: African Media Experts Seek End to Hate Speech