Presidency welcomes debate on the role of the media in nation building
12 September 2013
The Presidency welcomes the debate that has ensued since the remarks by President Jacob Zuma to second year journalism students from Tshwane University of Technology on the political economy of the media and the role of the media in nation building and balanced reporting.
The President had a vibrant interaction with the journalism students who are this week visiting Parliament to gain an understanding of how this arm of the State works.
The President told the students to be open-minded about the role of the media and the pressure it was under, especially with regards to balancing the role of media products as business enterprises that need to make a profit and the public’s right to know.
The President’s view is that the profit motive influences content as media products need to sell in order to make money and warned journalists of the future to be mindful of this imperative against their role of informing the South African public in a balanced and truthful manner.
He also emphasised the role of media owners and their responsibility to ensure that their products reflected a balanced view of the country and not only negative news.
Last week for an example, the South African media chose to highlight that South Africa ranked 53rd in the World Economic Forum competitiveness index, however it failed to focus on the fact that our country took first place on the regulation of securities exchanges and second place on the availability of financial services. Further, the country ranked second out of the 148 nations for the availability of financing through local equity markets, and there were no prominent recognition of these accomplishments from the media coverage.
It is the expectation of the Presidency that these matters are discussed in newsrooms daily to ensure that the business side of the media does not negatively impact on the telling of the South African story, especially as we head towards 20 years of freedom.
The President reiterates his appreciation of the contribution of some media houses to nation building as mentioned during his meeting with editors, such as the LeadSA project of Primedia and Independent Newspapers, the Touching Lives project of the SABC and ENCA/Etv’s Heroes and Against All Odds programmes.
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Issued by: The Presidency