Sunshine Journalism

The media is bombarded with ominous news of corruption, rape, murder and unfortunate events covering our newspaper headlines, television broadcasts and radio transmissions. The South African media has specifically been the bearer of bad news with the country running rife with crime and corruption. This has resulted in
audiences growing accustomed to the unappealing impression our nation has created for ourselves.

Though, a little good news is featured sporadically, where do we precisely draw the clear and destinct line between ‘Sunshine Journalism’ and propaganda?

On the 6th of December 2010, The New Age’s first edition was published with the aim to focus on “positive side of news” (according to the paper’s website) and present that news in a critically constructive manner. Under the operation of TNA Media, the paper covers everything a normal print publication would but no credible circulation could be determined. Having been dubbed a ‘pro-government newspaper’, this is a result of 60 percent of the papers investments generated by government funding. One can only assume that the content being reported is biased.

But what’s all the fuss about? Should we be up in arms when a pro-government publication decides to blow wind up our rears? I become morbid, horrified, faithless – or even all of the above – after sifting through stories that make headline news these days. The realization of the extent of degradation in our society is appauling itself.

So, a little bit of good news now and then shouldn’t be a problem right?

That would be the case if an unsettling factor wasn’t taken into account. The Gupta family practically own the paper and given the recent controversy with the Gupta-gate scandal, how should we view this media initiative knowing that the Guptas and President Jacob Zuma are such ‘bosom buddies’? Another of the Gupta’s branching media endeavours, is the launching of the Africa News Network (ANN7). Launched with impressive prospects, aiming to bring “constructive, nation-building stories” to South Africa, “in the interests of building a culture of unity and pride.”

“A former ANN7 consulting editor has alleged that editorial policy is ‘dictated’ to staff, and described ‘interference at every level.’ Rajesh Sundaram said journalists were told to either ignore Zuma’s political opponents or show them in an unflattering light.” reports the Global Post.

“The shoddiness and sloppiness are symptoms of ANN7’s preoccupation with positive news that won’t irritate the African National Congress government, rather than journalistic standards.” said Global Post.

This begs the question – Will South Africans feed into this new ‘pro-government’ style of journalism? A profession which I deem noble by the principles for which it stands for. The information being presented to the the public plays a major role in the choices everyday people, such as you and I, make. It affects the way we see our society and the how we choose to exist in it. The success of this new way of interpreting news all depends on whether South Africans are tired of facing the gruesome truth of the state our society is in.

Dylan Oktober

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