Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Apartheid in South Africa


The end to apartheid in South Africa was a turning point in American history and media coverage. While apartheid was a system of legal segregation in South Africa from 1948 to the early 1990s that separated racial groups based on color, the system gave considerably substantial privileges to races of European origin. While blacks were prohibited from voting, attending white establishments, restricted to separate parts of the country, and widely discriminated against, the termination of the white political system ensured a higher level of equality that had not been demonstrated prior.

With the decision to end apartheid in South Africa, news coverage of the event was enormous. As many newspapers, magazines, editorials, and broadcast institutions provided extensive coverage of the event, reporting methods, framing of the stories, and accuracy of the event varied amongst publications. Although many were delighted with the decision to end apartheid, others were angered over the pronouncement. Unsurprisingly, biases and skewed reporting were actively present within certain publications, while other news coverage of the event seemed to be void of slanted prejudices.

One article produced by the Chicago Tribune effectively reported the event with precision, depth, and fairness. The Article clearly painted a picture of the incident from the perspective of both sides, and efficiently allowed the audience to formulate their own understanding of the conclusion.  The piece of writing not only talked about the previous political structure that was in place, but also illustrated the difficult struggle and commitment that surrounded the passing of legislature. With eight quotes from political figures, officials, and the community, the article was well rounded and diverse. The only questionable motive of the piece, was why the writer concluded the story with a quote that was in obvious favor of the decision. Other than that, the article appeared to not show partiality to either side.

While The Chicago Tribune produced work of unbiased material, the San Francisco Chronicle appeared to show more favoritism in the verdict.  Producing an article that clearly showed their support to the decision to end apartheid, the San Francisco Chronicle came across more liberal and opinionated. While the framework of the piece was similar in structure to that of the Chicago Tribune, the seven quotes that were provided, illustrated the pleased response to the end of apartheid. Noting the events of the decision, the history of South Africa, the political establishment of the past, and the end of segregation, the San Francisco Chronicle provide a plethora of information to their audience. Although the San Francisco Chronicle appeared biased in their publication, the article strongly accomplished the goal of illustrating how positive this new law would be.  Concluding with a heavily visual statement, the San Francisco Chronicle made mention of Rensburg’s voice that was thick with emotion, and the recollection of the first white settlers in 1652.



Chicago Tribune - Constitution OKD Amid Tumult. 1993

San Francisco Chronicle - South OKs Charter to White Rule/Constitution gives blacks equal rights for first time. 1993


  1. The interesting thing for me about reading this post is that I never once thought there should be a balanced reportage of the end of apartheid. But you're right. There should be a balanced view of the situation. Perhaps conservative members of the white establishment in South Africa should have a voice in these stories. I can understand why the Chronicle neglected to offer this to its readers. I would have done the same.

  2. It is true that opposition viewpoints should have been included, for the sake of "fair reporting".

    But I can see why the SF Chronicle failed to provide opposing viewpoints. You said the Chronicle seemed biased, anti-aparthied.
    I see it as just lack of analysis. Many papers failed to acknowledge that the road to equality would not magically be solved with the end of apartheid. I would just say that those stories lacked analysis of what the future of South Africa might be.