Media relations management within a changing environment with specific reference to the University of the North

Maqoko, Mlamli Cecil (2001-04)

Thesis (MPhil) -- University of Stellenbosch, 2001.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This study focused on the representation of the University of the North in the national media during the period 1994-1999. A preliminary survey of newspaper reports indicated that during the post 1994 elections period the University had been getting negative coverage from the national media, especially the Mai/&Guardian.This period was also characterized by the intensification of transformation processes and other challenges within tertiary institutions. The aim of the study was to investigate how the national print media portrayed the university during the period 1994-1999 and to find out what role the Media Directorate of the division Development and Public Relations has played in the whole process. Both internal and external factors which had an impact on the representation of the university were also explored. This study is important in the sense that media relations is regarded as a strategic management tool whose purpose is to create mutual understanding between an organization and its internal and external stakeholders - more especially during the period when organisations are facing both internal and external changes. Communication is therefore seen as a central tool which is facilitating the transformation process. Seen against the tendency of the media to concentrate on conflict and events as major news stories - a conflict of interests then emerges. Content analysis was used to analyse newspaper articles (from the Mai/&Guardian and Independent Online/Star) covering the university between the period 1994-1999 and interviews were conducted with respondents who had been chosen purposely or specifically because their activities had a direct bearing on the media situation. The major themes or issues which had been the major focus of the media during the said period were then identified and evaluated in terms of the nature of the portrayal of the university . The study showed that the University of the North had been negatively portrayed in the media and that the absence of a Media Relations Officer, Media Relations Policy and the tendency of the media to focus on conflict as a news value contributed to the negative image of the university. It is hoped that the study will contribute towards the formulation of a media relations policy at the university, the assessment of the pace of and the whole transformation process and will highlight the major challenges facing public relations departments (and specifically the media sections) of historically black institutions in the current political dispensation.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die studie ondersoek die mediadekking van die Universiteit van die Noorde in die pers gedurende die tydperk 1994-1999 landwyd. Voorafgaande oorsig oor koerantberigte het aangedui dat na die 1994 nasionale verkiesings die landwye pers In baie negatiewe beeld van die universiteit geskep het. Die nasion ale koerant Mail &Guardian het veral die Universiteit in In negatiewe lig geplaas. Gedurende hierdie tydperk het tersiere instellings 'n verheweging van transformasie-prosesse, gekoppel met ander uitdagings, ondervind. Die doelwit was om die beeld te ondersoek wat nasionale koerante van die Universiteit geskep het en die rol wat hierin gespeel is deur die Media Direktoraat, In onderafdeling van die Universiteit se Ontwikkelings- en Skakelafdeling. Interne en eksterne faktore wat 'n invloed op hierdie beeld kon he, is ondersoek. Organisasies se verhouding met die pers is 'n strategiese kwessie. 'n Wederkerige verstandhouding met interne en eksterne belanghebbendes is onder meer belangrik veral wanneer organisasies interne en eksterne verandering ondervind. Die pers se neiging om op konfliksituasies en soortgelyke gebeurtenisse te konsentreer, vereis des te meer goeie kommunikasie. Die inhoud van koerantberigte oor die Universiteit wat verskyn het in die Mail&Guardian en Independent Online/Star vanaf 1994 tot 1999 is ontleed. Die hooftemas uit die koerantberigte is ge·identifiseer en geevalueer teen die agtergrond van die beeld wat geskep is van die Universiteit. Daarna is onderhoude uitgevoer met werknemers wie se werk 'n direkte uitwerking het op die perssituasie. Die navorser het bevind dat die pers In slegte beeld van die Universiteit geskep het. Die afwesigheid van In persbeleid en 'n skakelbeampte wat spesifiek met die pers onderhandel, gepaard met die pers se neiging om konflik-situasies as nuus te beskou, het daartoe bygedra. Daar word gehoop dat die studie die bepaling van 'n persbeleid vir die Universiteit van die Noorde sal aanhelp. Verder word gehoop dat die Universiteit se benadering tot die transformasiesproses, asook die pas waarop dit plaasvind, geevalueer sal word. Laastens word gehoop dat dit die vernaamste uitdagings wat skakelafdelings (veral die pers-afdelings) van historiese swart instellings in die huidige politiek bedeling in die gesig staar, sal beklemtoon.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/52332
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