This article draws on the early press coverage of the Marikana massacre to explore the
extent to which South Africa’s media transformation has delivered an inclusive public
sphere that allows for deliberative debate on issues that really matter to the country.
While adopting a critical approach to the normative assumptions underpinning the
Habermasian public sphere, this article will argue that South Africa’s negotiated
‘miracle’ transition has provided a framework for media transformation that has
both opened up spaces for media democratisation and constrained their ability to
transform to the extent that they established common public spaces for deliberative
debate. South Africa’s media transformation
has shaped and been shaped by the
growing division of South Africa into a two tier society of ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’,
fuelling social instability, especially among the youth. This article traces the roots of
this troubling picture back to the nature of South Africa’s incomplete transition.