The South African print media, 1994-2004: an application and critique of comparative media systems theory
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Daniel C Hallin and Paolo Mancini's Comparing Media Systems (2004) has been hailed as an important contribution to understanding the inter-relationship between the media and political systems. The work was, however, based on a study of 18 stable, mature and highly developed democracies either in Europe or in North America. As an emerging democracy that has recently undergone dramatic change in both its political system and its media, South Africa's inclusion poses particular challenges to Hallin and Mancini's Three Models paradigm. This thesis focuses on the South African print media and tests both the paradigm's theoretical underpinnings as well as its four principle dimensions of analysis: political parallelism, state intervention, development of a mass market and journalistic professionalisation. A range of insights and a number of modifications are proposed. This thesis is based on interviews with South Africa's most senior media executives and editors, a comprehensive study of the relevant literature and 15 years of personal experience as a political analyst, columnist and parliamentary correspondent covering South Africa's transition from apartheid to democracy. The thesis sheds new light on the functioning and applicability of the Three Models comparative paradigm as well as on the development and future trajectory of South African print media journalism.