Tomas Brunegård, President of World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) and philanthropist and Sekunjalo Executive Chairman Dr Iqbal Survé. Picture: Leon Lestrade/ANA Pictures

THERE has been progress in women empowerment in the media but it is not enough. So said Tomas Brunegård, president of World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA). The organisation represents more than 18 000 publications around the world.

Brunegård said it was not good enough globally either. “These gender-related issues are there and they need to be addressed.” He said this at WAN-IFRA dinner that was held last night in Durban.

This comes as a conference that brings journalists and media professionals from around the world kicks off today (WED) and will run until Friday, June 9. During the conference media professionals will discuss challenges, facing the media landscape. It will also look at solutions that could be used to solve the problems the industry faces.

One of the people who is finding solutions to problems being faced in the industry is philanthropist and Sekunjalo Executive Chairman Dr Iqbal Survé.

He said Independent Media had provided solutions with its #RACISMSTOPSWITHME campaign. But there were still challenges that lay ahead though. One of these challenges was to tell an African narrative in a media landscape that is dominated by companies that are relics from the apartheid era like Nasionale Pers (Naspers).

The media in the country also needed to be transformed. “Media transformation in South Africa is very slow except in the case of Independent Media,” Survé said.

He said he believed Independent Media was a lone star with its rapid pace of transformation. Ownership in other media houses was relatively the same as it was during apartheid with senior management, editorial patterns and narrative not reflecting the story of a new country, embracing its aspirations and diversity. It only reflects the media people who existed in the apartheid era.

“We shouldn’t be surprised because firstly the majority of our competitors were rooted during apartheid. It is a fact that Naspers was founded by the National Party and the Broederbond. Times Media Group had their editor working for the security police. The Caxton Group was funded by the apartheid government,” Survé said. These companies remained prominent until today without a change of ownership and mindset of the past. He said there were many journalists and editors who tried to make a difference but they were regrettably few and far between.

A way to change the status quo would there to be more black people in the media and a change in narrative about black people which is not negative. “This perception needs to be changed. But it’s a long journey and I think the first thing I think that government needs to do is to investigate the monopolies that exist in the country in the media sector and the impact that these monopolies have in preventing entrepreneurs that are black from coming into the media sector and from trying to earn a decent living.”

Independent Media’s attempt to build a different narrative and challenge the pattern of white media ownership has been under attack everyday its competitors. “History will determine whether it’s going to be something that we take ownership of and we establish our right to be in. Because if we don’t then if you don’t tell your own stories eventually it is those who colonised us under apartheid will continue to tell the stories,” Survé said.

He said it was for these reasons that someone like Helen Zille can tweet that there were good aspects to it even though it resulted in the loss of dignity and integrity for many people.

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