oa Global Media Journal - African Edition - The depiction of Julius Malema in the South African press

Volume 6, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 2073-2740



The contemporary South African press presents an antagonistic depiction of the actions of Julius Malema, the expelled (pending appeal) president of the African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL). This depiction embodies the oppositional political force the press exhibits in its representation of the near hegemonic political power of the ANC. In its assumed capacity of socio-political watchdog the press propagates influential depictions of the political elite, depicting selected individuals in antipathetic terms. These representations, which if assumed only as objective portrayals, neglect the intended opposition that the press acts in as 'fourth estate.' This study canvasses the aversive manner in which Julius Malema is pictured in the South African press through conducting a content analysis of two South African daily newspapers, The Cape Times and The Sowetan. The study analyses five intensely media-covered events in which Malema was central. Though the depiction of Malema does not present intrinsic malevolence, his actions are presented as antagonistic through predominantly episodic and emotive framing. His explicitly insolent diction is used as fodder to engage resistance. Such reporting signifies irresponsibility where, within a decontextualised framework, selective sound-bite journalism manipulates readers, accordingly shaping content from truncated snippets that are patched together within a prevailing media logic.

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