18 February 2019

South Africa: Jeff Bezos and Iqbal Survé, the Amazon and the Amazing Ego


Jeff Bezos and Iqbal Survé represent two very different ways of behaviour by media owners. Bezos is hands-off his US newspaper titles, and used social media to expose National Enquirer boss, David Pecker. Survé's image and words are all over his titles, which he has used to advance his business empire, but which he this past week appeared to have weaponised in synchronicity, signalling the death of editorial freedom at one of South Africa's biggest media companies.

On Monday 11 February, most of the editors of Independent Media, which owns 24 titles according to its website, led their newspapers on the same story - a defence of the owner Iqbal Survé after the Sunday Times alleged that he had used investment funding from government pensioners for his IT company, Ayo, to cross-fund the struggling media company and to pay personal bills such as his World Economic Forum membership.

For the rest of the week, the business pages and the opinion sections were filled with fighting talk by its owner.

"This is corporate terrorism - Survé," said The Mercury.

"Staff kept in the dark about Tiso Blackstar's financial woes," said The Star. Tiso Blackstar owns the Sunday Times.

"Ten points made...

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