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Friday, April 02, 2004, 9:05 Africa's first online newspaper est. 1994

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Eye on elections
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 CONVERSE
Fortnightly media insights by Professor Guy Berger, written exclusively for the Mail & Guardian Online
Canned journalism: When media vleis meets pap-arazzi reporting
"Here's the story of how a reporter got scooped by her own story -- and how audiences get scammed by junk-food journalism." Guy Berger looks at a case of duplication and a cautionary tale in the funny business of competitive journalism.
Miserable state of affairs
An audit of newsroom leaders is about to get under way. It's not the Human Rights Commission (HRC) probing racism, nor the Genderlinks NGO sniffing out sexism. It's an initiative of the South African National Editors Forum (Sanef). A case of the industry examining itself.
Registration is repugnant
First was Minister of Foreign Affairs Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. "But what's wrong with registering journalists?" was the bottom line of her message. Then came Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development Penuell Maduna. The gist of his theme: "Why assume that registration of the media is necessarily bad?" Their mantra has been making many media people angry, because it whitewashes Zimbabwe's repression of the press via registration.
Media manufacturing the 'democracy decade'
The media play a major part in constructing the meaning of 2004 as "10 years of freedom". They take what in many respects is an arbitrary figure, and canonise the period into a decimalised sacred cow of intrinsic significance. If media representation of the occasion is a given, the forms this takes are not. Thus, the 10-year motif invites comparisons -- but with what?
It's a matter of control
Dogs bark, caravans pass on. Opposition parties yap at the South African Broadcasting Corporation's live television coverage of the African National Congress's annual conference; newspapers take the corporation to task. But the national broadcaster moves on, leaving the fuss behind as if it were already history.
Confusing convergence
With less than two weeks to go before the closing date for comments on the Convergence Bill, a hoo-ha has erupted. Signalled by, among others, The Citizen on its front page (January 17), the claim is that the current draft law, if promulgated, will "require all website owners or publishers to have a content applications service licence to operate". Well, it depends.
No confidence in confidential briefings
Hefer and his commission now seem like history. However, amid the dust whirling in his wake, the controversy of confidential briefings remains to be resolved. In the interim, everyone associated with "off-the-record" media dealings is treading on tiptoes.
WSIS and the big picture
Undetected by most media Richter scales, important shifts are taking place beneath the architecture of globalisation. Journalists' silence about this story is surprising given that much of the movement has been directly about the media and their relation to other powerful pressures welling up from subterranean levels.
Durex irritates rather than titillates
Call me a killjoy, but I have to complain. My last column predicted that Aids would henceforth get less play given that the politics of anti-retroviral provision are over. Little did I know then that front-page coverage of the Durex global sex survey would push the latest figures of the United Nations Joint Programme on HIV/Aids (UNAids) to the inside pages.
End of the Aids story?
Those of you with "Aids fatigue", brighten up. A pleasant illusion is coming your way. It's this: now that the battle for the government to provide anti-retrovirals has been won, you can look forward to a decline in the coverage of Aids. The reason is that the politics of the story just got a whole lot softer.
Tsedu: Casualty of editorial confusion
A caller to Metro FM this week berated Johnnic management for being “coconuts” — blacks behaving like whites. But Johncom CEO Connie Molusi, who terminated Sunday Times editor Mathatha Tsedu, acted -- perhaps overreacted -- to factors in which things were much more complicated than simple black-white identity.
 MORE ARTICLES
  • Eye on the ball? Or: ayes on the brands?
  • Media shouldn't be bit players in a tawdry political bunfight
  • Let's get a continental score-card on media freedom


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