Article from ROAPE Volume 34 Number 113
Print Media in South Africa: Paving the Way for ‘Privatisation’

The Print Media in South Africa: Paving the Way for ‘Privatisation’
Vol.34 No.113 (Sept 2007), pp443-460
Since the end of apartheid, national and local governments in South Africa have been involved in the commercialisation and marketisation of a wide range of public services. This article examines the responses of the mainstream media to these neo-liberal initiatives, looking specifically at English-language newspapers and their coverage of water, electricity and waste management services. We explore the extent to which the print media can be deemed to be in favour of privatisation as well as the more subtle, discursive ways in which it covers these issues. We argue that these corporate media outlets in South Africa generate and perpetuate a neo-liberal discourse on privatisation, but that this dialogue is neither omnipotent nor monolithic. Nevertheless, it is exactly this façade of objectivity which gives neo-liberalism its hegemony. By appearing to give equal space to different points of view there is a perception of balance in the press that obscures the more subtle, opinion-making discourses that generate neo-liberal biases. We conclude with a brief discussion of what might be done to counter this neo-liberal authority.