9 Nov 2010
Axel Schmidt, Resident Representative of the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung Office in South Africa, speaking about the misunderstanding between the media and civil society in his opening remarks at a roundtable discussion, which sought to probe how the South African media reports on the economy.
Schmidt explained that there is an increasing need for fresh discussion and for organisations to identify shared interests.
At a recent gathering regarding the 2010 Media Barometer that is developed with the Media Institute of Southern Africa, he had noted the excellent quality of the contributions of civil society and media practitioners.
But, it appears that there is a lack of common understanding between the print media and civil society, in a context where the political landscape has become more difficult for the media, and there is a commonly acknowledged tendency to restrict media freedom. There has been an unprecedented attack on the Constitution and the media appears to have taken for granted that the historic civil society allies would be supportive, when in fact this has proved not to be the case, and often those allies have been the strongest critics. This has to do with lack of proximity to specific audiences and not civil society at large.
Schmidt made these remarks at the event held in mid September and co-hosted by SACSIS and the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung South Africa Office.
Media representatives that spoke at the event included Nic Dawes (Editor in Chief of the Mail and Guardian), Alide Dasnois (Editor of the Cape Times), Mondli Makhanya (Editor in Chief of Avusa Media and Chairman of SANEF) as well as Reg Rumney (Head of the Centre for Economics Journalism in Africa, Rhodes University).