FOR OVER two decades the truth about apartheid-era bank bail-outs, corporate slush-funds, financial life-boats, espionage and dirty tricks was suppressed by the mainstream press. The country’s state broadcaster, the venerable SABC even went so far as pulling the plug on a documentary by Silvia Vollenhoven, which linked Swiss bank accounts to various deals.
Project Spear relates the story of how various politically-connected individuals looted the treasury during the last days of the ancien regime.
Alternative press outlets such as Medialternatives are the loan voice in the wilderness when it comes to exposing ongoing apartheid corruption, and continues to carry the story behind the creation of a vast media cartel, responsible for state capture, and controlled by several Afrikaner businessmen.
Then suddenly in 2017, the Mail & Guardian decided to take off the gloves and publish several articles by Phillip de Wet, in the process rebooting a lapsed tradition started by its predecessor, the Weekly Mail, giving apartheid the finger.
This was soon followed by important new contributions to the subject by Hennie van Vuuren and Michael Marchant of the Daily Maverick, as the Independent Group was once again forced to follow the lead taken by smaller publishing houses.
The source of much of the information appears to be a report released by the Public Protector.
It is doubtful whether any new journalism of any major import gets generated at Newspaper House, whose mandarins appear happy to lead with stories about the antics of snake-oil pastors and facile Ford Kuga anecdotes. After the rather timid newsroom shake-up which occurred following the acquisition of the company by Dr Iqbal Surve, the group appears to have once again settled down to the dry mediocrity of its flagships, and the yellow-journalism introduced under Irish press baron Tony O’Reilly.
Yellow journalism, or the yellow press, is “a type of journalism that presents little or no legitimate well-researched news and instead uses eye-catching headlines to sell more newspapers.”