Experts slam government plans to start newspaper
THE GOVERNMENT's plans to start its own newspaper is an attempt to feed the public propaganda.
It is not only unconstitutional for a democratic government to do so, it is also unethical, policy analyst Elvis Masoga said.
Masoga, a senior researcher at the Institute for Dialogue and Policy Analysis, said there was no need for a government newspaper.
"The government must perform and the independent media must objectively report about its performance. Now the government wants to report about itself," Masoga said.
He was responding to weekend reports that a government newspaper would be launched next month.
Rhodes University journalism Professor Jane Duncan said the government's failure to support media diversity and community newspapers had led to the stifling of its voice.
"The government could use that money to promote diversity. Since the recession, community newspapers have been declining," Duncan said.
Controversial cabinet spokesperson Jimmy Manyi told City Press that the government's bi-monthly publication, Vuk'uzenzele, would be turned into a monthly newspaper with a print run of two million from next month. Plans are already in the pipeline to publish it fortnightly next year.
"The commercial media is censoring a lot of government information. Niyasivusa ukuba sizenzele (You are waking us up to do things ourselves)," Manyi is quoted as saying.
Manyi said the government would be abdicating its responsibility if it allowed editors of commercial newspapers to decide which government information was published. He said journalists came to government news conferences where 10 issues were raised but they (journalists) only wrote about one.
Government Communication and Information Services had issued a tender for the newspaper which would initially be a 16- to 20-page tabloid with a print run of between 1,7 million and two million.
This would make it the biggest circulating publication in South Africa. It would cost the government more than R1 million to print one edition.
Manyi did not rule out the possibility of turning Vuk'uzenzele into a daily.
"We want it on the streets, in every township and rural area. It will be bigger than all of you guys put together," Manyi said.
It would be published in all 11 official languages.