Problematising race for journalists: critical reflections on the South African Human Rights Commission inquiry into media racism.
Paper submitted for publication in journals:
Critical Arts; Race, Gender, Class.

      by Guy Berger, June 2001

How journalists report race and racism was at the centre of the South Africa's Human Rights Commission Inquiry into racism in the media. A critical analysis of the conceptual assumptions in the Inquiry's Final Report, however, reveals serious limitations to the enterprise. In particular, the flawed conceptualisations plus the generalised character of the findings are of little help in assisting the momentum of eradicating racism in South African media, and for linking race transformation to issues of class, gender, sexual orientation and xenophobia. This article identifies the problems as a race essentialism and a racism relativism, and argues instead that journalists need the concept of racialisation in order to change their reporting. The argument upholds the desired role of the South African media as one that contributes to a non-racial, as opposed to a multi-racial, society.


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