Director's Blog

Elections bull driving you mad, politicians full of it? Here’s how you can make a difference

According to figures from the Stats SA website (www.statssa.gov.za – you should go there –it offers really cool ways to play with population data) based on their 2008 mid year population estimate, children account for between 39% and 43% of South Africa’s population.

That seems quite a lot.  Seriously.  Zambia has more, 52% of Zambia’s population are children, incredible.  If we look at news, we certainly wouldn’t have any idea that children make up such a huge chunk of the population.

Calling on media to adopt an agenda in reporting elections

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Tune in to Media @ SAfm

Elections are coming and some say they may be sooner than we anticipate.  We say hooray!  We love elections at MMA.  There is a certain inexplicable joy at the prospect of monitoring a whole lot of media, analysing each news item, tracking the big stories and the little ones too, considering issues of fairness and bias, party coverage and gender equality. 

50/50 - highlighting the potential of the SABC

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50/50 Watch this programme!

Sometimes you aren’t sure about telling people about something good in case it ruins it.  Usually in the case of a restaurant if you tell too many people about it, it can get too popular, lose its charm and authenticity and become rubbish.  In the current instance, I am thinking of a television programme.  My fear isn’t so much about the programme becoming too popular, rather I think if it continues to fly under the radar it may just stay on air.

I’m talking about 50/50, a programme so good SABC marketing people never think to advertise it as a clear example of what our public broadcaster can do. 

Thank you South Africa thank you, the silly season…

If like me you don’t have satellite TV and you had a little more free time than normal over the last few weeks and rather than the wrestling feast that seems to be on e-tv almost 24hours a day…  Hang on, I know this is mid sentence but really there is a new programme on etv that makes Cheaters look like good television.  It is called Diva Diaries and it appears to be an excuse for scantily clad women to “wrestle.”  Now don’t get me wrong I am all for lowest common denominator media, we all need a break from reality and there is a lot to be said about tabloids and mind numbing television programmes but in the case of Diva Diaries it is just mind numbingly bad. Naturalising violence against women, stupidity and sexism in one programme is a minor feat I guess and it makes the other wrestling look like brilliant programming.

Looking for Hope

I am amazed by two recent media events.  Special Assignment last Tuesday (9/12/2008) was a follow-up to their expose of an alleged paedophile.  Curiously the programme’s focus seemed designed to be more about staving off a legal challenge from the subject of the programme.  Early into the programme the journalist says, “due to ongoing legal threats by his lawyers we decided to do a follow-up story.”  The programme then goes on to highlight other issues relating to the story that occurred prior to the expose first being aired.

Digital migration

On World Aids Day, ICASA held its second day of hearings into Digital Terrestrial Television, and digital migration regulations.  When I first heard about them I had no idea what they were all about, whether they were important or what the issues were.  Luckily as a member of the Save our SABC Coalition (see here) I attended a session where former ICASA councillor Libby Lloyd gave a presentation on Digital Migration.  It was brilliant and I highly recommend you have a look at it as it explains the key concepts in very accessible way. (Libby has kindly given us permission to put it on our website.)  Don’t know your Set top Box from your Dual Illumination?  Check out the presentation.  Libby’s presentation was so effective that it resulted in both the SOS Coalition and MMA making submissions to ICASA on the Digital Migration Regulations.

Political will and violence

We have entered the 16 Days of Activism campaign of no violence against women and children.  Yes it is limited only to the 16 days and yes there are certain difficulties with this. But we also need to acknowledge this for media especially; we need a campaign to ensure that these issues are the major media focus for at least a few weeks of the year.

Celebrating 15 years in style

We are having a party.  Not just because it is the end of the year but because MMP has been monitoring the media since 1993, that’s 15 years. 15 years for a small NGO I think is pretty good, especially when you do what we do, which is monitor the media.

But why have we been doing? Why should you care and how have we managed to stay around doing something some people think involves arriving at the office and reading a newspaper?  I will try and answer some of these questions, but before I do I think it is worth looking at what we have to celebrate.