There should be more constructive debate about media diversity in South Africa, Julia Plessing of the University of Johannesburg, argues. She studied different types of print media regulation and support in Scandinavia, Latin America and West Africa, and examines these in the South African context.
There is a tension between ensuring press freedom by state support, and the exploitation of support to control media content. The author presents a few main findings:
- Print media regulation and support is crucial to foster and maintain democratic debate.
- Government support to print media has been more common around the globe than assumed.
- There is a perpetual danger of governments exerting censorship or control.
The author showcases many different types of governmental support existing around the world. Various mechanisms could be adapted to the South African context, whilst seeking to minimise state control, the author concludes.
The article “Shifting the South African media diversity debate from the stick to the carrot” was published in African Journalism Studies and is available online (free abstract).
Picture: View of Joburg inner city from Gandhi Square by South African Tourism, license CC BY 2.0