Unless you’re, say, the National Press Club of South Africa, there would be no doubt that the Marikana massacre was the biggest news event of last year. In a previous post, I reported that the sociologist Peter Alexander considers the massacre one of the turning points in South African history. This week it was announced that City Press won a Sikuvile award for SA Story of the Year for its coverage of the Marikana massacre. This is indeed well-deserved. Their feature ‘The Faces of Marikana’ was one of the few mainstream stories that went beyond mere reporting of the conflict to speak to families of the victims, listening to their stories and treating them with dignity as human beings and not just as statistics of the dead. City Press’ coverage went beyond the pack journalism that characterized much of the reporting on Marikana, where elite sources were privileged above the voices of ordinary people. This is an example not only of the ‘ethics of listening’ that I wish more SA media would follow, but also an excellent example of how print publications can use the converged media space to their advantage.
It’s a pity that Greg Marinovich’s reporting for Daily Maverick was not eligible for entry into the awards this year. His contribution shifted the debate about Marikana and set the tone for many to follow. Print and Digital Media SA, under whose auspices the prizes are awarded, confirmed that because they only recently extended their coverage include digital media as well as print (they do still ghettoize tabloid newspapers in a category of their own, though), they did not consider websites like the Daily Maverick this year. Their rules for eligibility are however under review.
In the meanwhile, kudos to City Press for carrying the day at this year’s awards.