Debate: Uncovering how wide racism stretches in the media

In his continuing series focusing on the media in South Africa, Eusebius McKasier asks: Is mainstream media racist?

Delving into the topic is African times editor, Piet Rampedi, senior writer at the Daily Maverick, Richard Poplak as well as Khadija Patel who is the Editor in Chief at the Mail and Guardian.

Rampedi is the first to declare the existence of racism in mainstream media adding that it is structural and institutional owing to the country's past. He cites failure to acknowledge the racism as problematic.

Patel says media has to be understood as a product of society. If we are to acknowledge that South Africa still grapples with deep racism in some parts then we can be privy to that resemblance between our media and our society.

There's a structural relationship between how the media industrial complex has been built up, certainly the mainstream media.

Richard Poplak, senior writer at the Daily Maverick

In the same series read: Older more experienced women journos may be sidelined in newsrooms

Poplak goes on to say that racism in society and the media is a global phenomenon and not unique to South Africa.

Owing to South Africa's racial past, racial stereotypes and prejudices continue to persist and find expression in our newsrooms explains Rampedi. He adds that more often than not, racism and racial tones are especially subtle in the media.

Rampedi notes that for example when corruption is exposed in the private sector it is often labeled as collusion. But when compared to how a corruption scandal is revealed within the public sector, the media tends to become more aggressive with its probing and reporting.

Poplak disagrees with Rampedi.

It's a lot tougher going after corporate entities than it is in the public sector.

Richard Poplak, senior writer at the Daily Maverick

Patel emphasises the need to critically examine how commercial interests also play a role in dictating editorial agendas.

But it seems promoting a different agenda does not always get financial backing.

She says the Mail and Guardian has a 'Friday' segment aimed at revolutionising arts journalism in the country, placing the voices of black arts journalists at the forefront and look at the arts of South Africa from a black person's lens.

But they are struggling to support that with commercial support for the segment.

Listen to the clip below for more:

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