Exploring the social responsibility of tabloid journalism in South Africa: Views from the Daily Sun and Sunday Sun

Mokwena, Dimakatso David (2018-12)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2018.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: South African tabloids have been met with criticism and praise in equal measure since entering the newspaper market in the early 2000s. Allegations of failure to uphold the high ethical standards expected of the media in general have been levelled against these tabloids. Those defending tabloids contend that tabloids have brought new media audiences into the newspaper reading world. With this background in mind, this researcher set out to explore what journalists at two tabloid newspapers in South Africa, namely the Daily Sun and the Sunday Sun, think their social responsibility towards society is. This study used the theoretical concepts of the media’s social responsibility and Jürgen Habermas’ public sphere to explore the role tabloid newspapers play in society. Working from the premise that the media have certain responsibilities to adhere to in society, this researcher explored how journalists at these two tabloids view as their responsibilities towards their readers. Furthermore, assuming that the public sphere consists of many publics, this researcher explored how the Daily Sun and Sunday Sun journalists view their responsibility towards readers who have been neglected by the so-called serious news media. This qualitative study used semi-structured interviews to gather data from 10 journalists and one photographer at the Daily Sun and Sunday Sun. The findings show that the Daily Sun and the Sunday Sun journalists view their social responsibility as catering for the working class by empowering these readers with information that is relevant to them. Journalists view and describe the so-called “man in the blue overall” as their typical reader. According to the journalists, the news they write help to support democratic processes. Journalists at these two newspapers are fully aware that South Africa is an unequal society and see their roles as giving a voice to marginalised sections of society.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Sedert Suid-Afrikaanse poniekoerante aan die begin van die 2000s hul verskyning op die Suid-Afrikaanse koerantlandskap gemaak het, ontvang hulle beide kritiek en lof. Dié koerante word daarvan beskuldig dat hulle nie voldoen aan die hoë etiese standaarde waaraan die media in die algemeen gemeet word nie. Diegene wat poniekoerante verdedig, voer aan dat dié publikasies nuwe gehore na die koerantleserspubliek gebring het. Teen dié agtergrond, het hierdie studie ten doel gehad om ondersoek in te stel na wat joernaliste by twee poniekoerante, naamlik die Daily Sun en Sunday Sun, as hul sosiale verantwoordelikheid teenoor die gemeenskap beskou. Die studie het die teoretiese konsepte van die media se sosiale verantwoordelikheid en Jürgen Habermas se openbare sfeer ingespan om die rol van poniekoerante in die samelewing te ondersoek. Met die veronderstelling dat die media sekere verantwoordelikhede teenoor die samelewing het, het die navorser ondersoek ingestel na hoe die joernaliste by die twee poniekoerante hul verantwoordelikhede teenoor hul lesers beskou. Deur verder aan te neem dat die openbare sfeer uit baie groeperinge bestaan, het die navorser ook gekyk na hoe die Daily Sun en Sunday Sun se joernaliste hul verantwoordelikheid beskou teenoor lesers wat deur die sogenaamde ernstige nuusmedia geïgnoreer word. Dié kwalitatiewe studie het semi-gestruktureerde onderhoude gebruik om inligting by 10 joernaliste en een fotograaf van die Daily Sun en die Sunday Sun in te samel. Die bevindinge dui aan dat die Daily Sun en Sunday Sun se joernaliste dit as hul sosiale verantwoordelikheid beskou om voorsiening te maak vir die werkersklas deur hierdie lesers met inligting te bemagtig wat relevant tot hul lewens is. Joernaliste beskou en beskryf die sogenaamde “man in die blou oorpak” as hul tipiese leser. Volgens hierdie joernaliste help die nuus wat hulle skryf om demokratiese prosesse te ondersteun. Joernaliste by hierdie twee koerante is daarvan bewus dat Suid-Afrika ’n ongelyke samelewing is en beskou dit as hul rol om ’n stem te verskaf aan gemarginaliseerde lede van die samelewing.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/104887
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