Cape Town media sucks

Cape Town Media

Looking at these headlines makes me think that Cape Town's media really do suck eggs. I took two photos of different sections of this wall and for sensitive visitors posted the one you see above. For just how horridly sensational the media can get, be warned, but click to see this photo.

I know that some may argue that the media aren't being sensationalist, and that this is just news. The thing is that these billboards are printed to sell papers and the sad truth is that this is the news that sells. Should I burn the media for using it to sell papers? Perhaps not - but do you remember, during the World Cup Football, how few news items covered crime in South Africa? Did you at all notice that the media focused on what was big and sensational at the time - the football and everything surrounding it?

I recall becoming aware of this and wondering if the happiness and general euphoria that seemed to pervade our society at the time wasn't at least in part due to the lack of bad news and the media's switch to focus on positive stories - like SA The Good News does. It seemed that at the time that the media focused on the good and positive side. I struggle to believe that crime as described in these photos simply disappeared during June/July.

10 thoughts on “Cape Town media sucks

  1. Ali

    One of the first sayings, I’ve learnt in my studies of media and communication: «Bad news are good news». Afaik, the SA govt. didn’t publish crime reports during the World Cup. If it’s true, it might be one reason that the media didn’t focussed on crime as it habitually do.

  2. Paul

    Post author

    Ali, it’s possible that crime reports weren’t published – but journalists have ways of finding out about crime. I’m not implying a conspiracy theory, but it was strange that there was so little bad news.

    I thought about it afterwards and wondered how it would work if just one television channel decided to change all it’s news into positive news – and report on nothing negative. Some may argue that this kind of attitude is just about hiding your head in the sand, but I don’t believe it is.

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  4. Ali

    Of course, Paul, but the question is: Would journalists do use their possibilities? From my internship in SA I’ve learnt that SA’s media system suffers (from?) the same lacks of professionalism and resources as the German one does, maybe more serious.

    During the World Cup, one widely read only about mugging on journalists in German newspapers. Very often, newspapers only used the reports which was published by news agencies. The reason, I think, is clear. All the foreign media workers had only few contacts to South Africans. The German channel ARD, e.g. deployed 600 workers in SA. They majority only reported about the WC.

    What a pity that you don’t speak German. Two journalists travelled through SA during the WC and also made this experience in Erasmia, where the German national team practiced. All the other journalists just went from their hotels to the hotel of the German national team, participated in the press conference, visited the trial practice and went back to their own hotels. That’s all… :(

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  6. Paul

    Post author

    Hey Ali,

    What kind of internship did you do – if I may ask?

    A lack of professionalism and resources you say? I think we have a few good journalists – but I have to agree with you – a lot of what we see isn’t very good at all. But, let’s not get into that! :)

    Yeah, it’s a pitty that so few of those German journalists got to see anything else. They could have had such an awesome time!

  7. Ali

    You may ask. :) I did an internship with the Sub-Saharan Africa Media Programme of German Konrad Adenauer Foundation, based in Joburg. It deals with media topics in SSA, e.g. by organizing conferencing and workshops with the objective to boost media freedom and professionalism. During my stay, i did for example some research about South Africa’s media freedom, intended for a publication on consolidation of SA’s democracy.

    Of course, in relation to other African countries, the media system is great. South Africa has one of the best constitutions of the world and, and, up to now, the political system allows the watchdog to do its work. But very often, South African journalists violate ethic standards by, e.g. naming of victims and criminals, working on topics in an inappropriate tabloid style and so on.

    Before the WC started, South Africa’s media had an important discussion about Fifa’s stranglehold related to news coverage or accreditation of journalists. In the Foundation, we tried to get a copy of accreditation agreement but no one (i.a. Mail & Guardian) was able to present us a copy. The reason: At this point (I think around February), they just didn’t have the agreement. In my opinion, if I want to participate seriously in a topic, I should know what the people are talking about.

  8. Nathan Blows

    I think it’s some kind of social/political commentary. From my time involved with CTs hip hop movement, I know that graffiti can be used as a social/political communication tool.

    I drove past this today and I think it’s part of a theme.

    If you go further down Voortrekker, toward town, you’ll see another piece with an angel bent over a sarcophagus with the words Freedom Charter on the side.

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