Sensationalized stories likes “Please Bring Back my Black Panty!”, “His 4-5 was sliced off”, “Son Kills Dad over Beer”, “A Call from Hell” have helped brand and sustain the Daily Sun over the past 10 years, argues Tilo ngwana Rashaka.
Until recently, the Daily Sun, the biggest daily selling newspaper in the country, was my favoutire. I defended the paper in class discussions, with my friends and also with people who came out viciously condemning the paper for being unpatriotic.
My argument was always “the Daily Sun is telling our African stories in townships, informal settlements and rural areas.” It will not be a distortion of reality of note that the Daily Sun has reported on people who’ve been waiting for houses, sanitation, water and electricity since the advent of democracy and after the expose, positive changes have been made.
The paper has also highlighted the “Horror Affairs”, as it has dubbed it, inefficiencies and the paper was at the forefront of the Police brutality behind Mido Macia’s death, the Daily Sun Mr Fix it is also making positive contribution to many people and other things.
But the people arguing against the paper contend that the Daily Sun is heavily sensationalized and does not provide proper education to its target market about important issues that include business, economy, politics and during election times, people cannot make informed decisions as to which political party to vote for since the paper was so much preoccupied with offering them tekoloshe-of-terror and man-rapes-dog scandals.
But today I doubt I will ever defend the paper with so much enthusiasm and tenacity that I epitomized in the past. I have come to realize that the representation of black people in the paper is unfortunately appalling and echo colonial and apartheid sentiments that blacks are useless, violent, uneducated, lazy to think, witches, inter alia.
The Daily Sun, that has branded itself “the people’s people” is no longer the authentic voice of the voiceless, with the paper so much preoccupied with negativity and scandals.
The paper can be argued to rely on news values such as negativity and scandals to increase its circulation amidst the global economic meltdown. Some people have culture jammed the paper as “the Daily Lies”.
Because I have a lot of the Daily Sun and its Sunday sister publication, Sunday Sun copies in my wall wardrobe, I picked up only 2 copies, randomly.
One copy is from Thursday 13 September headlined “IT’S PEACE!” juxtaposed by a large picture of Marikana miners holding sjamboks, spears, thoka, knopkier and all sort of traditional weapons.
The bolded lead sentence is: THEY marched with their traditional weapons- like every other day since the Marikana massacre.
The second copy is from Monday 11 March 2013 headlines “KIDS WATCHED THEM DIE!”
The leading sentence of this cover story is “Two small children were forced to watch as three men gang raped their mother, their gogo and a tenant.”
From these two copies published within 5 months that I chose randomly, certainly you get a sense of the kind of stories that the paper reports on by virtue of their cover stories.
On Wednesday 23 October 2013, which was yesterday, the Daily Sun posted a promotional banner, (I don’t have a proper journalism term for it) advertising the paper that was due for distribution today and it had these words “Wife told to sleep with a dog” and by the way, this “wife” is black.
Others include, the “Kickboxer Tokoloshe Terror” posted on 22 October, “Cattle Steal our Clothes”, and when I was doing third year, our former Critical Political Economy of the Media lecturer, Dr Last Moyo, circulated an article from the paper headlined “Meet the Karate Goat.”
When I open the 13 September edition, negativity reigns. Stories range from: Cosatu, we back Vavi, too sexy for ekasi, mine mayhem goes on!, rapist beaten to death, court heard of slammed testicles, Ramogile shot in front of cop, anger over coffin shop, new sex scandal looms for holy among others.
People who read the paper on a regular basis will agree with me that majority of the pictures in the Daily Sun are not meant for sensitive viewers. Publishing disturbing pictures of people involved in a fatally car accidents is not a concern to the newspaper.
The paper relies heavily on pictures that depict sad and heart-breaking emotions. Pictures of people mourning, in hospitals, drunk, beating each other, inter alia, are the strong hold of the newspaper and I always ask myself the question “why did these people allow the Daily Sun agents to take them pictures in this state?”
With the paper celebrating 10 years this years, I guess we have to brace ourselves for another 10 years of “neighbour dumps rats at my doorstep”, “boiling water burn his face”, “man caught poking dog”, “workers’ strike leave donkey jobless”, “Cheeky thug pays dearly after his luck runs out!”, “Tavern Massacre Horror!” (with disturbing pictures) stories.