New Zulu paper welcomed

2010-11-27 00:00

THE latest developments in the print media are most welcome as they will go a long way to addressing the imbalances that have continued to characterise most, if not all, newsrooms in this country.

I know people say that we must stop putting the blame for everything that goes wrong on apartheid and we must look elsewhere for “excuses”, but what if apartheid is still to blame? I thought that when you blame everything else but the cause of a problem it is called denial.

When newspapers were established in this country they were owned by white people and understandably so, for two reasons. One was because whites owned the machinery and because the status quo, even before apartheid, lent towards discrimination on the basis of colour. As time went on, the situation started to change as more black people became part of the system, even though they remained at the bottom of the food chain.

Media houses have seen reader numbers dwindle, not just since the credit crunch, but before then. Some titles have been found wanting and have scrambled to survive. The practices of the past are no longer yielding the desired results and new methods have had to be adopted to safeguard the bottom line.

The recent decision by Avusa’s Sunday Times to introduce a Zulu edition of the newspaper has been welcomed by those of us who are for the preservation of the Zulu language. Off course, Ilanga newspaper is a pioneer in this regard, as UmAfrika, and much later Isolezwe, followed suit. I am told that even City Press may follow suit. True or not, who knew that our beloved language would be taken seriously, albeit for financial and capitalistic reasons? I doubt this would have been done for any reason other than for money.

The challenge that continues to face Zulu titles is how to make sure they are taken seriously. I have often spoken to former colleagues in the Zulu media who complain about how underpaid they are, despite the fact that their newspapers outsell their English counterparts more than twice over, and they are in the same media stable. As a former journalist, I have often joked about what hypocrites journalists are. They are better at fighting for other people’s rights than their own. Have you ever heard of journalists going on strike? They don’t, even though they have issues and so they are poached by government departments to be used as spokespeople.

I am of the opinion that English titles do not take some stories seriously, like those from the townships, unless there are strikes or something negative. Townships are the most populous areas in any town or city, yet newspapers still do not deliver their products there. Someone explain that to me.

Unless whites learn Zulu to a level where they can write it, I foresee a situation whereby whites will work for English titles, blacks will work for Zulu ones and the English titles will drift to the periphery of mainstream media. The only black people working for English titles will be non-indigenous-language-speaking “coconuts”.

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