’n Gevallestudie: ’n Mediahistoriografiese verkenning van ’n vroeë rubriek en ’n latere effekteorie- uitspraak

Rabe, Lizette (2018)

CITATION: Rabe, L. 2018. ’n Gevallestudie: ’n Mediahistoriografiese verkenning van ’n vroeë rubriek en ’n latere effekteorie- uitspraak. Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe, 58(4-1):809-825, doi:10.17159/2224-7912/2018/v58n4-1a12.

The original publication is available at http://www.scielo.org.za

Article

In hierdie artikel, in die vorm van ’n gevallestudie, verken ek ’n vroeë rubriek uit die 1920’s in ’n Afrikanernasionale dagblad vanuit ’n mediahistoriografiese vertrekpunt teenoor ’n veel latere uitspraak wat uit die kognitiewe effekteorie-paradigma stam. Die rubriek heet “Oom Izak van Kaapstad” en het in Die Burger verskyn. Ongeveer sewentig jaar later is die Afrikaanse media beoordeel as ongetwyfeld die kognitiewe bestuurders (“mind managers”) van Afrikaners vanuit die konteks van effekteorieë wat handel oor die rol en die mag van die media. Die vertrekpunt van die artikel word binne die veld van die mediahistoriografie gebaseer in ’n poging om dié onderbestudeerde vakwetenskaplike subgenre aan te vul. Ten eerste word dus ’n bespreking van mediahistoriografie aangebied om die onderwerp deeglik in te bed in die veld, waarop ’n bespreking van kognitiewe effekteorie volg wat die rol en die mag van die media voorhou. Laasgenoemde word aangevul met ’n bespreking rondom “kognitiewe denke” vanuit die perspektief van die kultuursosiologie. Die gevallestudie-benadering as navorsingsontwerp word kortliks saam met die metodologie bespreek. Daarop volg as deel van die mediahistoriese begronding van die artikel, en om die nodige konteks te bied, ’n bespreking van die bepaalde koerant en sy maatskappy se posisie en invloed in die maatskaplike milieu van die Afrikaner, wat inderdaad dekades later sou lei tot die beskouing dat die Afrikaanse media inderdaad kognitiewe bestuurders is. Vervolgens kom die rubriek en sy skrywer self aan bod. Ten slotte word vanuit hierdie mediahistoriografiese verkenning voorgestel dat dié vroeë Afrikaanse rubriek inderdaad as “effek” gesien kan word waarop die latere uitspraak rondom die Afrikaanse media as kognitiewe bestuurders gemaak kon word.

The Afrikaans media companies that propagated Afrikaner nationalism were undoubtedly “mind managers” of Afrikaners, was the judgement in 1994 by leading South African media scholar Pieter Fourie (1994a:283; 1994b:275). The media companies he referred to were Nasionale Pers and Perskor. This article investigates Fourie’s statement from a media historiographic point of departure, based on a column in the 1920s in Die Burger with the title “Oom Izak van Kaapstad” [Uncle Izak from Cape Town]. It was written by Burgerjournalist Izak van Tonder who created the fictional character of “’n ou man, oom Izak ... wat vroeër op ’n plaas gewoon het en vir sy oudag Kaapstad-toe getrek het” [an old man, uncle Izak ... who used to live on a farm and who, in old age, moved to Cape Town] (Van Tonder 1945:44). In addition to the focus of this article on media historiography, as an underresearched field in the South African journalism and media studies (Sonderling 1995:87; Wigston 2007:5), the article also presents a media and culture theoretical focus. It proposes namely that Fourie’s “mind manager” statement is understood from the cognitive mediaeffects theory, in conjunction with the media historical exploration. A further relevant point of departure is suggested in the approaches of sociologists Hofstede, Hofstede and Minkov (2010:4-5). They propose that culture constitutes “mental programmes” or “software of the mind”. This approach is also discussed as relevant, specifically as it can also be found in the overall media and culture theory of cognitive effects theory and its sub-theories of agenda setting and framing. Methodologically, the subject is presented as a case study, and in this research design the historical method has been applied. The broader background of the column is presented as an essential historical context, followed by a discussion of the columns. Factors that led to the development of Afrikaner nationalism, such as the South African War, the First World War and the Rebellion, are presented as important contextual references. The founding of the media company Nasionale Pers, as “organ” for Afrikaner nationalism, is also discussed as further context. Following Fourie’s statement of the Afrikaans media as “mind managers”, as well as the sociological point of departure of “mental programming”, as suggested by Hofstede et al., this article attempts to indicate that the column under discussion could manipulate the thinking of its readers. It can therefore be suggested that the cognitive media effects theory, as understood also from within the sub-theories of agenda setting and framing, as to be found in the column, could constitute a “mind manager”, and that the column could be regarded as working as a “software of the mind” programme. Thus, as a historiographic exploration of an early column, and on the basis of effects theory, together with the proposed sociological theory of “mental programming”, the article’s aim is to suggest that Fourie’s statement on the Afrikaans media as “mind managers” can be regarded as having substance.

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