The rise of commercialism poses many challenges to the integrity of the South African media in the post-1994 era. To maintain profitability, many publications have developed a range of strategies to attract advertising, in particular, developing the content that advertisers most desire – content that creates what Herman and Chomsky called a ‘buying mood’ for their products. These include niched supplements, special sections and advertorial pages (surveys) as well as a new trend in paid-for content in the South African print media, identified in this study: the development of a ‘third arm’.This monograph, which derives from original recent research conducted by the Human Sciences Research Council and the University of the Witwatersrand's Media Observatory, looks at the range of strategies employed in the print sector to develop paid-for content, and notes the problems and practices that may arise from such strategies and the potential consequences for editorial content, journalistic practice and for readers. The authors survey the literature and the regulatory environment, examine several case studies, interview a number of influential media managers and analyse the results of focus-group research, held to determine the effectiveness with which paid-for content is signalled in the South African print media. The publication provides important insights into issues of editorial integrity, profitability, media ethics, trust and the consolidation of democracy.This controversial work will spark particular interest among staff and management of newspapers and magazines, advertising managers, media academics and students. Anyone who reads newspapers or magazines should also be sensitised to the trends sketched in this work.
List of tables and figures
Abbreviations and acronyms
2. Literature review
3. The South African context
5. Case studies
6. Focus groups
7. Interviews with magazine managers
Dr Adrian Hadland is a Research Director in the Democracy and Governance research programme at the HSRC. He holds a PhD from the University of Cape Town and an MLitt from the University of Oxford in the UK. Before joining the HSRC, Adrian worked as a political editor, columnist and assistant editor of the Cape Argus. He has extensive experience in the South African and international media, and serves on the South African Press Ombudsman's Appeal Panel.
Lesley Cowling, academic co-ordinator of the Journalism and Media Studies programme at the University of the Witwatersrand, has 18 years experience in writing, editing, layout and design for a wide array of publications in both South Africa and the United States. She has also worked extensively as a journalism trainer, developing short courses and training programmes in South Africa and the Southern African region.
Bate Felix Tabi Tabe is a research assistant and Masters student in journalism and media studies at the University of the Witwatersrand. He was given a commendable mention in the Student Awards category of the Telkom ICT Journalist of the Year competition in 2005.
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