President Jacob Zuma addressed a group of journalism students from the Tshwane University of Technology. He told them that when he leaves South Africa, people always have such great things to say about how well the country is doing, but when he is in South Africa:
[…] every morning you feel like you must leave this country because the reporting concentrates on the opposite of the positive
We think he means negative. He went on to tell the students that the media in South Africa paints
an opposite of positive a negative picture of the government, when they should be focusing on how the government has turned the country around and made it a brilliant democracy.
Zuma had two important points for the students, something they should remember when they break into the industry.
The first: be patriotic in your reporting.
Zuma told a story about a trip he took to Mexico. He immediately noticed that the newspapers weren’t reporting about the rampant crime happening in the country. He asked:
Why don’t I read about this [crime] in the media, because in my country, you read about everything.
He said the answer he received was:
We market Mexico and we cannot market Mexico negatively. We can’t wash our dirty linen in public. Otherwise, if we said there was huge crime, people wouldn’t come to invest in this country.
The second point he wanted to make sure he spoke about was ‘attractive headlines.’
You must have attractive headlines, not for the interest of the reader, but to attract the reader to buy.
All in all he wants the media to create the image of South Africa as being a wonderful country through patriotic reporting, like in Mexico, and through attractive headlines.
One student replied to Zuma’s tips:
We must just learn to live with this love-hate relationship [between the media and government]. We don’t create the news, we report the news.
[Source : M&G]
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