Marikana and the ethics of listening


Peter Alexander, speaking at a Rhodes University humanities seminar today, accused the media of ‘letting us down’ in its reporting of the Marikana massacre. Alexander, speaking about his research contained in the book Marikana: A view from the mountain and a case to answer, said the media’s first response to the massacre was financial: ‘What does this mean for the Rand?’. He said the media’s reporting of the massacre, as well as the current Farlam Commission of Inquiry, tended to be episodic rather than analytical. ‘This leaves a space that should be filled by social scientists’, Alexander said. He said the massacre was a turning point in history, marking the end of the immediate post-apartheid period, and will likely have far-reaching consequences, for instance increased militancy by trade unions. Nic Dawes, editor of the Mail & Guardian newspaper (which gave Alexander’s book an unfavourable review) responded tersely to Alexander’s comments on Twitter:


In my inaugural address last year, I spoke about the media’s reporting on the massacre which, especially initially, tended to favour official viewpoints and did not listen to the stories of the mineworkers themselves. This lecture, ‘Journalism in a new democracy: The ethics of listening’ has now been published in the journal Communicatio and can be downloaded for free for a limited period.The original lecture can be accessed (open access) here.


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