Since March 2020, Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) has been monitoring the media and analysing
how they have been reporting Covid-19, a pandemic that has dominated media coverage, since the
first case was reported in South Africa in March 2020. The purpose of the monitoring has been to
determine the trends in source representation, according to gender, race and affiliation. Further, the amount of coverage per day has also been analysed in order to analyse where there have been
peaks and troughs. Findings from the previous analyses done have revealed that the increase and decrease in the number of stories on Covid-19 in the media per day has been affected by factors such as whether there is a national address by the President, whether or not the infection and death rates have increased, debates around school closures and reopening, etc, showing that the coverage has mostly been event based or dependant on official communication from government on the infection, recoveries and deaths.
In addition, the coverage of Covid-19 has had sources mainly from government with the Presidency and the ruling party, the African National Congress taking up the largest share of voice. Other sources such as the Minister of Health, Dr. Zweli Mkhize, the Minister of Finance, Tito Mboweni and Bheki Cele, the Minister of Police have also been in the coverage a lot more than others showing that the majority of sources in the coverage of Covid-19 have been black males from the government. This at the expense of women and experts/scientists, and other races.
This seventh brief launched had a monitoring period that included August, which is Women’s month. Therefore, a question as to whether Women’s Month impacted on the number of female source in coverage of Covid-19 is explored. Further, an analysis is done on the number of stories recorded per day now that South Africa is in national lockdown level one.
On the lack of women’s voices in coverage of Covid-19, Thandi Smith who is the Head of
Programmes at MMA says, “While the South African media coverage of the Covid-19 pandemic is
commendable, it is deeply concerning that we see a very consistent underrepresentation of
women’s voices, made very obvious by the fact that there is only one female source in the top 10
most accessed sources, something we see far too often. It would be safe to assume that Women’s
Month would have been the perfect opportunity to amplify women’s voices but we seem to simply
fall into the same pattern of underrepresentation.”
For enquiries, please contact Lister Namumba, the Monitoring, Research and Analysis Programme
Manager by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.