In South Africa, a simple walk down the street is enough to keep you informed of all the latest news. Almost every lamppost is adorned with a simple rectangular piece of paper inscribed with one of the day’s headlines. About three to four of the major news stories are plastered on the posters across the city each day in an impressive display of manpower (and the cheapness of labor), all designed to entice drivers and passers-by to pick up a copy of the latest paper from the men and women peddling them in the street.
Since day one in Pietermaritzburg, I have been fascinated by the newspaper industry in South Africa. I love newspapers and journalism in general, and I do most of my reading–like an increasing number of Americans–online. Here, however, the situation is much different. Internet access is scarce and expensive, and most households don’t even own a computer. Therefore, people actually go through the old-fashioned process of buying a physical copy of the newspaper! Can you believe it? It’s really neat to see, especially because it provides a glimpse into what the role of newspapers in America once was before the advent of the internet. It’s also a sobering reminder that proclamations of the death of newspapers do not ring true everywhere.
For the most part, the quality of journalism is quite good…aside from the front page story of the KwaZulu Natal Witness (Pietermaritzburg’s paper) exclaming that Oprah was going vegan for a month to cleanse out her body.
To check out the KZN Witness’s website, go to www.witness.co.za
To visit the site of the Cape Times (Cape Town’s paper), click www.capetimes.co.za
I will get an update about the past week posted in a few days…