South Africa
frequent victims, and obfuscation by
government officials and business people when requests for information were
Concerns continued to be raised about
the low compliance with South Africa’s
Promotion of Access to Information Act
(PAIA), with denial of 46% and 67% of
requests by the public and private sector
WAN-IFRA expressed mounting concern over what it described as the suffocation of independent and critical
media through the Government Communication and Information System’s
withdrawal of advertising spending,
and the opaque allocation processes for
state financial resources to media.

The print media had a
tough year with attacks
by police on journalists
covering protests, obstruction by the police
of journalists and photographers at crime
and accident scenes.
The media, especially the daily and
weekly newspapers, have performed a
sterling service for the country in publicising stories about state capture, corruption, abuse of power and questionable conduct of politicians and officials.

Print investigative reporters have excelled in unearthing much of this information and gaining access to and publicising the contents of correspondence
in leaked emails - the so-called secret
Gupta emails – which revealed details
of the corrupt activity. In the course of
the year, criticism of Zuma’s indiscretions and poor governance mounted
and the calls on him to resign or be dismissed became more strident.
The trend in declining print media circulations over the last few years continued in 2017 and was reflected in
the latest Audit Bureau of Circulation
figures for Quarter 4 (Q4). Losses were
incurred “across the board” in the newspaper category, with a 2.1% drop from
Q3 2017 and 5.1% from the previous
year. The dailies showed a 17% drop on
2016, although there were some small
individual gains.
Magazines presented a gloomy picture
with an 8.1% decline over Q3, and a
further nasty 16.6% decline over the
previous year. The ABC reported that
“significant declines” occurred in the
custom sector, but that the consumer
magazines suffered too with only some
showing marginal increases.
The losses were attributed largely to the
onslaught of the internet, social media
in particular, and led to a further decline
in advertising revenue with knock-on effects on the financial viability of publications and consequent cuts in expenditure on news-gathering and staffing.
The most dramatic result of the decline
in advertising revenue together with the
effects of the country’s weak economy,
was the closure by the Tiso Blackstar
publishing house of the print edition of
The Times, the sister daily publication of
the Sunday Times which was launched
in 2007. It closed in December and was

So This is Democracy? 2017


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