31 January 2018

South Africa: Day Zero Advert Fails to Fly Its True Colours in Sunday Newspaper

analysis

The reader has been dangerously misled. One assumes this is the work of an informed, skilled, critical journalist who has weighed up the evidence to conclude that Day Zero can be avoided - and that the evidence and conclusion have been through a rigorous editorial process. It turns out that this is a politically-laden, one-sided, unfiltered opinion.

If there was ever an illustration of how harmful it is for media to carry sponsored editorial without letting the audience know, the Sunday Times gave it to us last weekend.

Page four of the country's biggest newspaper offered a hopeful perspective on the Cape Town water: Cape Town's dreaded Day Zero can be avoided. As someone with a daughter going off to study in the Cape, I felt relieved that what is generally a credible newspaper believed that the worst might not happen. As someone trained to read media carefully, I noticed that the page was labelled "Special Feature" and it used a different typeface from the rest of the paper's editorial.

But it did not say it was sponsored. And it contained political criticism of the Democratic Alliance: Water Minister tells DA finger-pointers to dry up. Surely the Sunday Times would...

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