n Communicatio : South African Journal of Communication Theory and Research - Public communication in the national interest : a South African debate : communication, cultural and media studies

Volume 32, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0250-0167


The purpose of this article is to make a contribution to the general debate about the role of public communication media in South Africa. The focus will be on whether or not the South African media should serve the national interest. This question was debated in the national media between 2001 and 2003, and during two meetings that were held to discuss the controversy. The article focuses on this debate and starts by reviewing the different positions taken by government and the media on this controversial but important question. In essence, the government called on the media to serve the national interest and argued that this is a legitimate and necessary responsibility. Some in the media rejected this call out of hand while others accepted the call, though not as prescribed or expected by government. The review of these different positions is followed by a theoretical discussion of the pertinent concepts and issues: nation, national interest, public, public interest and the media's role in relation to them. Based on this discussion and the review of the public debates, the article concludes that the media should indeed serve the national interest but do so critically.

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


Article metrics loading...


This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a Success
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error