Lianne van Leeuwen


Since the implementation of the 2008 Protection of the Information Bill and the 2010 proposed Media Appeals Tribunal, it is often argued that these two developments may affect the country’s press freedom problematically. The research question of this paper is: how has press freedom in South Africa developed since 1994? Firstly, two discourse analyses of presidential public speeches that refer to press freedom were carried out in order to gain an understanding of presidential discourse. Secondly, two content analyses of the Mail / Guardian were conducted in which the articles that refer to press freedom were analysed to examine the way in which they cover this issue. The time periods for the content analyses match those of the discourse analyses so the results of the comparisons can be compared safely. The content analyses show that journalistic rhetoric has changed while the political rhetoric seems to have remained the same. As an alternative to the Media Appeals Tribunal, the present writer suggests the appointment of an independent regulatory body which will be able to solve issues between the two opposing discourses in an easy and fair manner, and the media will be able to maintain its function as the ‘fourth estate’ while political figures can object to defamation.

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