Unpacking History, Unpacking Corruption, and Unpacking Media Analysis: Some Recent Books on the South African Media

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This article is an extended review essay that maps recent titles written by practising journalists and journalists turned academics in South Africa. The analysis focuses on Gawie Botma’s Race Talk in the South African Media; Lizette Rabe’s A Luta Continua: A History of Media Freedom in South Africa; Glenda Daniels’ Power and Loss in South African Journalism: News in the Age of Social Media; and Anton Harber’s So, for the Record–behind the Headlines in an Era of State Capture. These studies follow earlier analyses, namely: Herman Wasserman’s Media, Geopolitics and Power: A View from the Global South; and Sean Jacobs’ Media in Postapartheid South Africa: Postcolonial Politics in the Age of Globalization. An intersecting track is the journalists’ exposés, such as: Paper Tiger: Iqbal Survé and the Downfall of Independent Newspapers by Alide Dasnois and Chris Whitfield; SABC 1936–1995: Still a Key Player … or an Endangered Species? by Wynand Harmse; The SABC 8 by Foeta Krige; and Behind the Scenes at Gupta TV by Rajesh Sundaram. How each study frames history, the researcher/s’ position and their respective writing styles are discussed. The author argues that academic studies should be read in concert with works written by journalists because abstract frames of reference tend to bracket out the daily nitty-gritty struggles within newsrooms, especially within the current conjecture. In conclusion, the author suggests that whatever the alleged flaws of the “mainstream media” may be, individual journalists (and others) are the ones telling the story behind the story in the slew of books that have been published recently on state and private sector corruption.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-19
Number of pages19
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • South Africa
  • history
  • journalism
  • media studies
  • resistance
  • state capture

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication


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