Theoretical framework

The chapter borrows insights from Salawu’s (2015) subsidiary model of indigenous language media management, the propaganda model, critical political economy of the media and the concept of coloniality. Specifically, coloniality ofpower and being is deployed to understand the link between the selected media organisations’ editorial policies and isiXhosa language development at Caxton Media and Independent Media. This is crucial given that coloniality is a consequence of Western modernity that outlives colonialism (Mignolo 2007, 2011; Moyo and Mutsvairo 2018).

One way to unravel it is through an historical and hermeneutical analysis of phenomena, including the media, in post-colonial Africa (see Karam 2018). The chapter explores whether or not the selected editorial policies’ take on indigenous isiXhosa language media are reflective of coloniality of power and being. It also determines whether or not the relationship between the editorial policies and the selected newspapers is a perpetuation of the apartheid policies of marginalizing indigenous languages in favour of the colonial languages. The chapter argues that, the presence of Africans in these indigenous language newspapers notwithstanding, coloniality has to be unravelled through an analysis of the editorial policies’ impact on indigenous language development. This is crucial considering that whites and colonialism gave access to some blacks whilst denying others, with those granted access reinforcing white dominance and coloniality whilst keeping their fellow blacks in a disadvantaged position (Quijano 2000). In other words, they became the wardens who ensured that their peers did not break free from the epistemic prisons to which colonialism and coloniality condemned them (see Nakata et al. 2012). In this way, coloniality controls all forms of production, including knowledge production (see Quijano 2000). It also defines what development and progress are (see Quijano 2000; Mignolo 2007, 2011), and Western modernity defines what development is for the Global South. It is a system that has been passed from generation to generation and has taken on a life of its own. Unravelling whether the editorial policies of Caxton Media and Independent Media specifically address the issue of indigenous languages helps us to expose the subsistence of coloniality in post-apartheid South African media. It assists in unmasking the presence or absence of coloniality of power and being in the isiXhosa language publications, BONA and Isolezwe.

The chapter also borrows insights from critical political economy and Herman and Chomsky’s (1988) propaganda model to interrogate the editorial policies of the selected media organizations’ impacts on isiXhosa language development in newspapers under their stable. Specifically, the chapter applies the concepts of ownership, advertising and structure to assess how these, as espoused in the editorial policies, shaped isiXhosa language development in BONA magazine and Isolezwe lesiXhosa newspaper. As Golding and Murdock (1991) argue, the signification and content of a media organisation are products of an array of forces, including market forces, that exert pressure on the media (Golding and Murdock 1991). The hunt for profit or media commercialism has led to media concentration and conglomeration, which in turn leads to plurality without diversity (see Herman and Chomsky 1988; Golding and Murdock 1991). It has also resulted in media sticking to tried and tested formats (see Herman and Chomsky 1988; Golding and Murdock 1991). Outlets also avoid controversial content that interferes with the buying mood (Herman and Chomsky 1988). In this light, by frowning upon

isiXhosa language newspapers 229 reporting that is not compatible with their goals, advertisers exert influence on media content (see Herman and Chomsky 1988). Indeed, advertisers do not fund media organisations whose content is not compatible with their goals (Herman and Chomsky 1988). They thus selectively fund some media organisations whilst ignoring others. Consequently, they have become a latter-day licensing authority (Golding Murdock 1991), which forces the media to conform to the dictates of advertisers.

In addition to the above forces, owners exert enormous influence on media content through the hiring and firing of editors and journalists (see Herman and Chomsky 1988; Golding and Murdock 1991). As Herman and Chomsky (1988) argue,

It is our view that, among their other functions, the media serve, and propagandize on behalf of, the powerful societal interests that control and finance them. The representatives of these interests have important agendas and principles that they want to advance, and they are well positioned to shape and constrain media policy. This is normally not accomplished by crude intervention, but by the selection of right-thinking personnel and by the editors’ and working journalists’ internalization of priorities and definitions of newsworthiness that conform to the institution’s policv.


In light of the foregoing, structural factors - such as ownership, control and advertising - exert considerable influence on media content. In this context, language use and type of content (i.e. signification) are influenced by ownership, control and funding mechanisms. However, Herman and Chomsky (1988) argue that journalistic professionalism grants editors and journalists some autonomy. This is given credence by Teer-Tomaselli and Tomaselli’s (1987) observation that an analysis of City Press articles indicates that editors and journalists ignored the owners’ directive to reduce unrest reporting by 50%. However, given the considerable influence that owners, controllers and media advertisers wield on content, analysing the editorial policies of the selected media houses and the content of Isolezwe lesiXhosa is a viable way of understanding the importance placed on isiXhosa language and publications by the selected media organisations, Caxton Media and Independent Media.

Finally, Salawu’s (2015) models (the mainstream and the subsidiary) of media management are deployed to understand how Caxton Media and Independent Media ‘manage’ their indigenous language newspapers. This is because an editorial policy guides the conduct of a media organisation and its employees. In the mainstream model, as Salawu (2015) argues, indigenous language newspapers are the main or sole product of the organization whilst ‘the subsidiary model consists of local language newspapers that exist as subsidiary products of a foreign (but dominant) language media organisation’ (304). In the mainstream model, local language newspapers enjoy greater attention, focus and priority and get the lion’s share of resources (staff, equipment, marketing, etc.). However, the opposite is truein the subsidiary model - indigenous language newspapers get less of everything. The chapter seeks to establish the significance placed on the isiXhosa publications in the editorial policies of Caxton Media and Independent Media.

Methods of data collection

Archival research was used to gather the editorial policies of Caxton Media and Independent Media. It was also used to gather news articles from Independent Media’s Isolezwe lesiXhosa. Specifically, articles that focused on language and cultural issues were selected for analysis with the intention of establishing the role played by the newspaper in isiXhosa language development. We initially intended to also analyse stories from BONA magazine but dropped the idea during data gathering when we discovered that the stories are conceptualised and written in English and then translated to isiXhosa. However, to make up for this handicap, interviews were conducted with translators at BONA magazine to understand the technicalities of translating the English language stories to isiXhosa. The editorial policies were subject to document analysis whilst the stories were subjected to thematic analysis. The intention was to establish the link, if any, between the editorial policies and content and isiXhosa. This research centres on whether the editorial policy documents of Independent Media and Caxton Media address the development of isiXhosa. The findings, to which we now turn, are presented thematically.

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