SABC executives reportedly want to see 70% positive news stories in every bulletin. ANN7 also wants to give the public "sunshine journalism", and both feel the media should have a role to play in nation building.
Chinese media outlets entering the continent have stated a similar aim. It's an idea quite at odds with the alternative conception of South African journalism's role as the watchdog of government. Should we take it seriously?
It was the SABC's seemingly permanent "acting" COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng who invoked the 70% figure in an interview with the Mail & Guardian last week. "The media normally focus on the negative publicity," Motsoeneng said.
"I believe, from the SABC's side, 70% should be positive [news] stories and then you can have 30% negative stories." And later: "The majority of the country believes we should highlight good-news stories." He didn't give a source for this claim.
In fact, there already exists a media outlet in this country devoted entirely to positive stories: the South Africa The Good News website. Founded six years ago by Steuart Pennington, the stated aim of the website is to correct what they call an "information imbalance" in South Africa, whereby...