The impact of commercialism on community: a case study of coverage of the Alexandra Renewal Project by two commercially-owned newspapers
In a bid to reflect the role of commercial media in communities, this study examines the reportage, by two commercially-owned community newspapers, on the township of Alexandra’s important community development story, the Alexandra Renewal Project (ARP). Driven by a common assumption that commercialism poses a threat to the watchdog role of the media, and does not reflect community views, this study uses the theories of community media and media political economy to highlight the tension between commercial publishers and grassroots community media advocates. The study uses content analysis and interviews to reflect the role of the newspapers by critically analysing content and opinions about the coverage of ARP by the two newspapers. The dissertation argues that if the two commercially-owned newspapers, namely Alex News and City Vision, are covering ARP – a vital story for Alexandra’s post apartheid revival, then they are moving towards fulfilling their community function as community media. However, a closer analysis of such coverage is key to questions on whether commercialism can balance between making money and serving communities.