To some degree people who protest should be exonerated, said University of Witwaterand journalism professor, Anton Harber, at media diversity round table discussion in Johannesburg.
Chronic protests in the country were a result of a people feeling like they were marginalised, were excluded from the national debate and that their needs and demands were not being heard, he said, citing the Marikana tragedy as a classic example.
“Behind the Marikana tragedy is the fact that we did not really hear those voices or understand what was happening in the build-up to August 2012,” he said. “This is what happens when media is insufficiently diverse.”
In comparison to 1994, there is more diversity in newsroom demographics, management and ownership in 2014, Harber said. While this progress might be commendable, it is not reflected in the content.
There has been a shift in ownership pattern. Before 1994, albeit under censorship, the country had a right wing alternative media, a leftwing alternative media and an active trade union media, said Harber. “Today our media is overwhelmingly located in the centre of our politics and economics.”
Correcting the distortions and imbalances inherited from the past is critical in post-apartheid South Africa and the real test lies in content and audience.