The Listening Post

South Africa, xenophobia and the media

The politics and coverage of xenophobia in South Africa; and TV regulation in the UK ahead of a contentious election.

A recent upsurge of violence against foreign nationals in South Africa has raised contentious questions about how to talk about the issue in the media.

When the influential King of the Zulus, Goodwill Zwelithini, was quoted as saying that foreigners “should pack their bags and go” many saw it as a precursor to the attacks which have mainly been targeted at migrants from other African states. The king has refuted these allegations and says that the media have taken his words out of context.

Others too have singled out the media for blame. South African President Jacob Zuma, has said emphasising the “xenophobic” nature of the attacks casts the country in a bad light. The question remains of whether the media are fulfilling their responsibility to prompt the government and the South African people to face tough questions about inequality and jobs.

Putting the South African media under the lens this week are: Anton Harber, a media professor at WITZ University; William Gumede, a senior associate at St. Anthony’s College in South Africa; Cawo Abdi, the author of Journeys of Hope and Pain; and Sthembiso Msomi, the political editor at The Sunday Times newspaper.

Other media stories on our radar this week: China has sentenced a journalist to seven years in prison for “revealing state secrets to foreign news organizations”; Media tycoon Rupert Murdoch has berated his journalists for failing to hit harder at Labour leader Ed Miliband ahead of UK elections; and another postponement for the two Al Jazeera journalists stuck in Egypt after months in detention.

OFCOM: Arbiter of good British TV?

Britain is also the focus for our feature this week. The UK’s Office of Communications (OFCOM) is the regulator enforcing media regulations for all news organisations in the UK – except the BBC. OFCOM has pursued complaints against Russia’s RT, Iran’s Press TV, and Murdoch’s News Corporation, but the BBC operates under different rules.

With elections approaching, the performance of the media is thrown into sharp relief and the remit of OFCOM needs a closer look. The Listening Post‘s Flo Phillips reports.

Finally, whether for capturing the excitement of the dive, drive, ride or climb, the GoPro is the thrill-seekers camera of choice. They are waterproof, shockproof and shoot in HD, but can the GoPro withstand extreme levels of boredom? A Youtube-er calling himself ‘braziliandanny’ put the tough little camera to the test and recorded his own “Boring Office Job GoPro Commercial” which we are featuring as our End Note video of the week.