The rise of commercialism poses many challenges to the integrity of the South African media in the post-1994 era. To maintain profitability, many publications have developed a range of strategies to attract advertising, in particular, developing the content that advertisers most desire - content that creates what Herman and Chomsky called a 'buying mood' for their products. These include niched supplements, special sections and advertorial pages (surveys) as well as a new trend in paid-for content in the South African print media, identified in this study: the development of a 'third arm'. This monograph, which derives from original recent research conducted by the Human Sciences Research Council and the University of the Witwatersrand's Media Observatory, looks at the range of strategies employed in the print sector to develop paid-for content, and notes the problems and practices that may arise from such strategies and the potential consequences for editorial content, journalistic practice and for readers. The authors survey the literature and the regulatory environment, examine several case studies, interview a number of influential media managers and analyse the results of focus-group research, held to determine the effectiveness with which paid-for content is signalled in the South African print media. The publication provides important insights into issues of editorial integrity, profitability, media ethics, trust and the consolidation of democracy. This controversial work will spark particular interest among staff and management of newspapers and magazines, advertising managers, media academics and students. Anyone who reads newspapers or magazines should also be sensitised to the trends sketched in this work.
Dr Adrian Hadland is a director in the Democracy and Governance research programme at the HSRC. Before joining the HSRC, he was the Political Editor and Assistant Editor of the Cape Argus. He has worked for a number of South African and international news organisations as a political journalist and columnist. Eric Louw is Director of Communication Programs in the School of Journalism & Communication, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia. His primary area of research is political communication. Simphiwe Sesanti is a lecturer in the Department of Journalism at the University of Stellenbosch. He has worked as a journalist - writing for South African and international publications in the areas of politics and arts - for more than ten years. Professor Herman Wasserman teaches Media, Communication and Cultural Studies at the University of Newcastle, United Kingdom and is associate professor extraordinary in the Department of Journalism, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa. He is editor of the journal Ecquid Novi: African Journalism Studies.
Literature review; the South African context; methodology; case studies; focus groups; interviews with magazine managers; regulation; conclusion.