‘It’s not just the unions that are cut off from people, but the media too’: reconstituting South Africa’s mediated public sphere

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Peer-Reviewed Research
  • SDG 16
  • Abstract:

    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.