Sunday Times editor Phylicia Oppelt recently described her biggest competition, the City Press, as a “failing newspaper”, in a column penned by herself. But judged by Media Tenor research institute’s latest report measuring influential media, Oppelt might have to reconsider her remark about editor Ferial Haffajee’s Sunday paper. TheMediaOnline reports.
After enjoying the top spot of “Most quoted media by South African press” last year, the Sunday Times has been overtaken by the City Press. According to Media Tenor’s “Analysis of most quoted media” between 1 January and 12 December last year, the City Press has surpassed the Sunday Times by 37 quotes. This means that the City Press was quoted by other media 37 times more than the Sunday Times was quoted — an indication of how influential other media consider the City Press to be.
‘The City Press have become the go-to people,” said Media Tenor researcher Stephano Radaelli. “The City Press are starting to create their own image for themself. They are owning the big stories.”
A good example was its coverage of The Spear, the controversial painting of President Jacob Zuma with exposed genitals. This placed City Press at the centre of political debate, according to the research.
Media Tenor analysed 2422 quotes in 2012 in the South African media, compared to 5397 quotes the year before, which seems to show that media are quoting less and less of one another.
Radaelli said this was one of the most important trends identified in the report.
“We find that the media houses have reverted back to generating their own news. There’s a lot more proactiveness by some our weeklies, but even our dailies are taking the initiative and creating news,” said Radaelli.
While Ferial Haffajee and her editorial team are probably celebrating being in the top spot, one of their sister newspapers, the Afrikaans daily Beeld, seemed to be the most improved publication.
Beeld was the biggest climber amongst the traditional media, jumping 11 places from last year to take the third ranking of media most quoted in 2012.
Radaelli said Beeld had shown a lot of proactiveness and “own-initiative” stories. “That proactiveness is really coming through.”
The Media Tenor report said: “Reporting by Beeld saw increased uptake by other media such as the City Press due to the paper’s coverage on crime an corruption. As such, the paper’s ability to remain a thought leader is likely to be tested with the trial of paralympian Oscar Pistorius in 2013.”
Mail & Guardian drops in rankings
Although the Mail & Guardian remains a big player in the media industry, it fell from fifth place in 2011 to seventh place in 2012. The weekly was quoted 36% less in the political section in 2012 than the year before.
“Lots of people are asking what is happening with the Mail & Guardian, but more and more media are taking their own initiatives [with stories],” said Radaelli. “The Mail & Guardian is still seen as an opinion leader.”
Politics remained a favourite topic to write about in the local media.
“Traditional media remained particularly focused on political developments such as Marikana tragedy, e-tolls and the Limpopo text book saga,” read the Media Tenor report.
“‘The Spear’ and the president’s Nkandla homestead garnered particularly significant interest amongst the top agenda setters.”
Less international coverage
The report found that South African media’s news agendas showed less focus on international news than in the past.
“The focus has been very domestic,” said Radaelli. “In order for you to become influential, you have to have an international presence.”
According to the research, the top agenda setters of 2102 were increasingly focused on local news. International stories accrued less than 10% of total coverage, despite global events like the Olympics, US President Barack Obama’s re-election and Hurricane Sandy causing havoc.
More women quoted
Another interesting trend identified by the research is the fact that more and more women are being quoted in the media.
“There is a greater presence of women being quoted and we know women are really unrepresented in the media,” said Radaelli.
The increase last year was not major but if one looked over the past 10 years, there had been a steady increase in more women being quoted, he said.
Journos trust Twitter
Social networking site Twitter is becoming an important player in the media industry.
“We are seeing more and more journalists going to Twitter. It is becoming a more reliant source for them. It is something worth watching for in the future. Journalists would be quoting tweets or certain links,” said Radaelli.
The New Age newspaper was the media that most cited social platforms Twitter and Facebook in 2012.
“Other media such as The Times, Beeld and The Citizen remained particularly focused on discussions and contentions debated on social media,” stated the report.
“The New Age took the greatest interest in tweets whereas the Beeld followed Facebook commentary the most. Die Burger, Cape Times and The Star displayed a strong interest in both social mediums.