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Friday, July 29, 2005

South Africa: tabloids riding a wave of sales

"Racist sharks that devour white swimmers" - with stories like that South African tabloids are stunningly successful. According to IOL "South Africa's young tabloid industry is riding a wave of sales". But some fear a decline in credible journalism.

As namibian reports publishers are changing their newspapers which were traditionally aimed at the white minority. Eleven years after apartheid ended tabloids are launched targeting "the huge black market, where improved literacy and higher living standards have created a new market of newspaper readers." Thabo Leshilo, editor of Sowetan claims on Media&Guardian online that South African society has moved "from sobriety to sizzle. The 1970s and 1980s have gone; this year is the one of tabloid journalism."

"I think people finally realised what a completely untapped market it was", says Karl Brophy executive director of Daily Voice on IOL. Daily Voice was launched in March in Cape Town. Due to its success publisher Independent News, who makes 13% of its revenues in South Africa and is the leading newspaper publisher there, is now planning to expand the paper. It will also launch more African language newspapers reports namibian.

South Africa's top-selling daily the Daily Sun, published by Naspers, reaches about 2.3 million readers daily according to statistics on SouthAfrica.info. But the style of reporting of tabloids like the Daily Sun also evokes criticism. Mail&Guardian online states: "Crass archetypal narratives ... are the stuff of cheap fiction and they're a country away from credible journalism. Yet, an entertainment media vehicle does not have to be pure garbage. " This problem was also a topic at the general Meeting of the South African National Editors' Forum (Sanef) two weeks ago. After a long debate the editors finally embraced the rise of tabloid journalism and called it "a vibrant element of the changing media landscape" as Mail&Guardian online reports. Nevertheless the problem continues to trouble Sanef editors, especially the question of what constitutes racism in the media.

Sources: IOL, namibian, Mail&Guardian online, SouthAfrica.info

Posted by Anna-Maria Mende on July 29, 2005 at 04:12 PM | Permalink

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