The ANC is losing ground in media coverage while its darling-turned-archrival Julius Malema is making inroads. TheMediaOnline reports.
Research company Media Tenor SA conducted a media analysis of the political climate in South Africa in the run-up to the last general elections in 2009 and upcoming general elections this year. The results are likely to leave the ruling party more than slightly concerned, since it shows that the African National Congress is battling to maintain its previously strong media presence.
But perhaps worst still for the ANC, Malema seems to be on the road to recovery after starting his own political party, the Economic Freedom Fighters.
“With only months left until the elections, the ANC has lost its dominance in the media and faces the prospect of losing further confidence in its president, Jacob Zuma, as his reputation does not show signs of consistent recovery,” according to the analysis, entitled ‘Tough road ahead for ANC’.
This while Malema’s media image is improving, despite him still facing criminal charges in court.
“Should his media image continue to improve, this will see more sympathy for him and his party’s views,” said Media Tenor senior researcher Stephano Radaelli.
“Unless Jacob Zuma can restore his own reputation in the media and show more consistency in this regard, the ANC is unlikely to appeal to people seeking effective leadership from the party.”
Compared to the year before the last general elections in 2009, the ANC has lost almost a third of the media presence that it used to have.
Almost half the share of coverage is currently going to opposition parties – 47% to be exact. This is a huge jump from the 28% of media coverage the opposition managed to secure in the run-up to the last general elections.
The research is based on an analysis of 141 255 statements on political parties and 101 445 statements on Zuma in 47 key print and TV news products.
Between 1 January and 31 December 2008, the ANC enjoyed a 72% media presence, compared to the Democratic Alliance’s 12%, the then newly formed Congress of the People’s (Cope) 8%, and the remainder of opposition parties having the share the last 8%.
But now — between 1 January 1 and 31 December 2013, — the ANC has to be content with a 53% media presence, while the DA is up to 31% — and Malema’s EFF is enjoying 4% of the media presence pie. Other opposition parties share the remaining 12%.
“A dominant political presence in the media running up to elections is key in order to remain relevant,” says the Media Tenor SA study.
Zuma and DA leader Helen Zille have both had their ups and downs in negative media images, with very little contrast in the pair’s reputations between 2011 and 2013.
Malema, on the other hand, has mainly repaired his image since being expelled from the ruling party in 2012, and starting his own party last year.
“The media have kept a keen interest in Julius Malema, to the extent of marring his reputation. After his expulsion from the ANC, his media image continued to fall. However, since the advent of EFF, Malema’s image has improved, despite his facing litigation charges,” says Media Tenor SA.
IMAGE: Economic Freedom Fighters website