Analysis of media reporting and xenophobia violence among youth in South Africa

University essay from Malmö högskola/Institutionen för konst, kultur och kommunikation (K3)

Author: Tapiwa Gomo; [2010]

Keywords: xenophobia; media;

Abstract: Through the use of content analysis, qualitative interviews and quantitative questionnaire survey, this study look at the role of media reporting on xenophobia among youth in South Africa. The study is based on Alexandra Township , a overcrowded and poor settlement in Johannesburg, South Africa. I choose Alexandra because it was the site of many attacks against African immigrants in April 2008. News content from 36 news media was examined on how their content might have contributed to the xenophobic attitudes.The media content findings show a very strong stereotyping and bias against African immigrants which is enough to feed to the xenophobia attitude. However, both qualitative and quantitative findings do not confirm a link between this bias and xenophobic attitude in Alexandra. Competition for resources, their experiences with foreigners, myths social prejudice and the bad behavior by some African immigrants were the main sources of influence. This suggests that the society is influencing the media content and not the other way round as is commonly the case. This phenomenon challenges the assumed power of the media. The study also reveals that while the media in South Africa has little effect on xenophobia attitudes there is a chance that if the media change the way they report on African foreigners, some respondents indicated that it may change their view on African foreigners. Over and above this requires the media to adopt social change models to influence social cohesions while encouraging the government to address incumbent social problems facing both the people of Alexandra and the immigrants as findings suggest a possibility of another xenophobia outbreak if the government does not address social problems in places such as Alexandra.

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