by Isabelle Abraham
As more phone-hacking incidents come to light, the UK media is bearing the brunt of the mounting number of lawsuits. News24 reported that as of 20 April, the cases brought against News of the World has now amounted to a staggering 100. Another UK organisation, British broadcaster Sky News, has admitted to hacking emails, but justifies this decision as ‘public interest’. Sky News is a part of BSkyB – of which 39% is owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation.
Ten days ago, South Africa's political and press logics led to collision and polarisation, plus some unconvincing (at least to opposing sides) game playing. The result was high level rhetoric, intolerance, deadlock and distrust. Understanding this history helps us explain why its changing, and what the prospects are. That's my paper (draft) for a conference on Media, Politics and Public, convened by the Axess Programme on Journalism and Democracy in Stockholm, 22 October.
South Africans have two self-righteous bodies with major divergences in their mutual perceptions. Put in simplified form, you can say:
• SA’s journalists see themselves as watchdogs on power on behalf of the public.
• The ANC and government see the press as a bunch of hyenas.
• Politicians have a proclivity to be demons, according the watchdogs.
• Our leaders are angels, according the ANC.
Taking a medium term view, there has been an interesting shift as regards the prospects of press self-regulation in South Africa - and it's positive. This is the gist of my research paper presented at the SA Communications organisation conference in Potchefstroom today. SEPT 2010: Here's an updated version in the light of subsequent developments.