Published on NGOpulse.org, by Deborah Walter, May 19, 2010.
The world’s media eyes will soon squarely focus on South Africa, with millions from across the globe tuning in via multimillion-dollar broadcasts. Yet, even as the international media and big broadcasters move in, and journalists descend from all over the world, in South Africa, like much of Africa, community radio is still a key source of information and news for many communities, linking local activities and issues with international perspectives.
While other news media, especially print, struggle to keep audiences, community radio listenership in South Africa is continuously rising. According to the South African Advertising Research Foundation, community radio is improving its weekly reach, rising from 7.340 million listeners to 7.713 million between February and May this year alone.
One of the contributing factors cited is the increasing listenership among youth and women. Perhaps it is because, although we live in an increasingly globalised world, audiences still crave community issues and information relevant to their everyday lives.
Community radio is often more likely than mainstream media to include voices form community-based sources, and women sources. For example, monitoring of community media by Gender Links during the April 2009 elections showed that women constituted 34 percent of news sources, compared to 20 percent in monitoring of the mainstream media conducted by Media Monitoring Africa over the same period.
In celebration of 3 May, World Press Freedom Day, Gender Links, South Africa’s National Community Radio Forum (NCRF), and the Ecumenical Service for Socio-Economic Transformation (ESSET) conducted a debate to tackle the convergence of these issues – community media, gender, and the upcoming World Cup 2010 … (full text).