Page 6

Yearbook Jan 2019

4 yearbook 2019 e are not in a good place as a country. The economy is in serious trouble, with economic growth stagnant at best. South Africans are, on average, getting poorer, and have been for seven years. Unemployment is continuing its year-on-year growth, now at 26.7%, but at 38.2% among those aged 15-35. Many more have given up even trying to find a job. In this economic environment it is not surprising that our politics has become angry and fractious. Calls for radical economic transformation and expropriation without compensation are easy to make when you have no job or prospect of one. The unemployed are a growing and angry constituency that is in search of a political home where they may be offered some hope of a brighter economic future and perhaps even redress for the deprivation they are suffering now. It is at times like these that the media must play a crucial role in helping the public navigate competing and angry messages. Yet the same cause of populist anger – a very weak economy – also affects the media industry. Ultimately, the media is a function of consumer spending. The more there is to spend, the more advertising money is available to attract that spend. Given that consumers are feeling the economic pain, spending is down. The FNB/BER Consumer Confidence Index has been on a steady downward trajectory since 2011 when our economic fortunes turned, with one exception. There was a sharp rebound in the first quarter of 2018, when Cyril Ramaphosa was elected president. But that rebound has mostly been lost as the reality of the serious problems besetting the economy set in. Eskom is gradually getting worse, with load shedding back and its financial position continuing to deteriorate, imperilling the whole state. The last investment grade rating that government enjoys, from Moody’s, is perilously close to being lost, which would lead to a sharp increase in the cost of government’s borrowing, effectively diverting money to servicing debt instead of spending on infrastructure and social programmes. Politics, parliament and the Guptas Advertisers are battening down the hatches and trying to reduce expenditure to protect their businesses. Yet, it is precisely the time when media companies are most vitally needed to fulfil their role in defending democracy through the news function they must play. Despite the economic headwinds, the media has been able to fulfil this role admirably. During the dark days of state capture, when it seemed Downs and ups: Post-election Ramaphoria could herald upswing in media fortunes The media will play a crucial role in the upcoming general elections, and not just from a journalism perspective. Commercial media thrives when the economy is growing. A good election outcome could well set the scene for a more positive economic outlook, says STUART THEOBALD. W Stuart Theobald, chairman of Intellidex MEDIA IN SOUTH AFRICA


Yearbook Jan 2019
To see the actual publication please follow the link above