Print media coverage of community protests in South Africa
Since the end of apartheid, there has been a steady increase in community protests in South Africa, as a result of growing citizen frustration and tensions. High levels of unemployment, increasing inequality, shortages of housing, water and sanitation, electricity; corruption and municipal administration, health and crime, have all been listed as reasons for the protests, often described as a ‘rebellion of the poor’. The authors will present the findings of a quantitative content analysis, which explored the nature of mainstream print media coverage of the protests and offer reflections of how the protests are framed in relation to democracy. The community protests represent a form of bottom up resistance, raising issues of the politics of inclusion and exclusion. Moreover, the political realm is shaped by media coverage of the protests – when the media focuses only on violent protests, or frames protests as nothing more than a traffic disturbance – it shapes the nature of how these groups are given voice in mainstream media.