Election Coverage 7 April 2009 – NPA/Zuma, Media Takes a Stand for the People

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Election coverage for Tuesday 7th April was overwhelmingly focused on the NPA’s decision to drop the charges against Jacob Zuma and the reaction from various people.  Not only were these stories prominently covered, but in most newspapers, they filled a majority of news coverage (as opposed to sport, entertainment or business).  The exception to this pattern was the Daily Sun, who still gave unprecedented coverage to this political story as election stories have not been widely covered in the paper.

All monitored media devoted their editorial space to commentary on the announcement (including a front page editorial by the Daily Sun).  Newspapers also covered the story from various angles, getting reactions from ‘people on the street’, Zuma supporters, opposition parties and political analysts.  There was substantial analysis devoted to the issue. Television news also covered the story fully, including reactions from Zuma, in addition to analysts, opposition parties and ANC supporters.

A comparison of the front page of The Citizen to that of the Daily Sun illustrates the reaction of media to this decision. These mediums have been chosen to point to the overall trend, not to single them out for any particular practice (and they offer a very graphical contrast).

imageThe Daily Sun front page headline was “Nothing can Stop Zuma Now!”  The paper provided a front page editorial, saying that the NPA’s finding is a ‘small challenge compared to the one that now lies ahead’, requiring that ‘so much trust and hope [in him] is not misplaced’.  The Citizen front page headline was “Spineless …. that’s how lawyers describe NPA’s Zuma dicion as DA goes to Court”.  The story quoted lawyers who had attacked the NPA’s decision to not proceed with the charges against Zuma.  The editorial (p. 12) said that the 6th of April marked the death of constitutional democracy in South Africa.  Both clearly took an editorial standpoint based on what the editors’ felt was best for the country and South Africans.  This reflected coverage of all newspapers for the day.

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For more information please contact Sandra Roberts on 084 9000 344 or 011 788 1278 or William Bird on 082 887 1370.

The Daily Reports are made possible by the Open Society Foundation.

Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) has monitored every democratic election in South Africa. This year we are doing the same, providing daily and weekly reports on media coverage of election news, as well as MMA’s Election Media Ratings

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The following media are reviewed in the compilation of this report: Business Day, Daily Sun, etv primetime news; SABC 3 primetime news; Sowetan, The Citizen, and The Star and The Times.

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