Helen Zille will attract more media attention

STYLISH: Helen Zille is the new leader of the DA. Pic. Veli Nhlapo. 06/05/07. © Sowetan.
STYLISH: Helen Zille is the new leader of the DA. Pic. Veli Nhlapo. 06/05/07. © Sowetan.

Sowetan Reporter

Sowetan Reporter

Senior media decision-makers say it will be interesting to see how the media depicts the new Democratic Alliance leader, Helen Zille, as compared to her predecessor, Tony Leon.

Speaking during The Editors' discussion programme on SAfm yesterday senior editors said the fact that Zille was a woman was likely to influence journalists into covering aspects about her fashion sense and hairstyle.

SABC Radio assignments editor Elize van der Walt said given the history of how media depicted women, it was certain "that smaller issues such as what she is wearing and her hairstyle" were likely to make the headlines.

Sowetan editor-in-chief Thabo Leshilo said it was unfortunate that such aspects will be focused on in the media and it would come as no surprise as the media decision-making ranks were "male dominated".

Leshilo's comments come in the wake of the South African National Editors Forum (Sanef) releasing its ground-breaking Glass Ceiling Two audit that showed women occupy less than 30percent of top management posts in the media and that men get paid more than their women counterparts in the media industry.

"To avert the media becoming more focused on Zille's fashion sense, it is important to help sensitise media on the issue of gender," said Leshilo.

Editors again raised concerns about the controversial Film and Publications Amendment Bill which is seen interfering with editorial independence of the media.

"The media has had effective self-regulation for the past 45 years. This bill is there because some people in government have a problem with the rise of tabloid journalism in our country. It is not about child pornography. It is there to punish the tabloids (which are here to stay) which have become the whipping boys and girls of SA journalism," said Leshilo.