|Written by Goga, Farhana|
Consistent with the Windhoek declaration on Creating an Independent and Pluralistic African Press, and the UNESCO Work Plan on Communication, Information and Informatics in the Service of Humanity, this project is designed to enhance the free flow of information and ideas in South Africa. The project is particularly directed at a country… where the democratisation process has been embraced, and where disadvantaged communities have made strides towards self-empowerment through the media. This takes note of the fact that, for media freedom and diversity to flourish, all sections of society should have access to both the production and consumption of media materials. (McClain 1994:1)
In South Africa, racial discrimination was legalised and thus became ingrained in all aspects of life, including the media. Further, the inherent discrimination against women has been clear- cut. Women’s access to media positions and to media itself, has not been equal to that of men.
The aim of UNESCO’s initiative is to build a new generation of media organisations and media workers truly representative of South Africa’s cosmopolitan society to facilitate the democratisation process (McClain 1994:7). To this end, the projects proposed focus on both public and private sectors of the media. The particular focus of the projects is the promotion of women and women’s rights in and through the media, together with the empowerment of rural and other marginalised communities through the development of media initiatives (McClain 1994).
In this regard, projects in public service broadcasting, community radio, print media, human resource development in media organisations and women in the media are necessary. Research, publishing and monitoring the media will be essential aspects that need establishing, to stimulate both debate and development within the media industry. Through the projects, there should be a circulation of knowledge and the development of skills to effectively deal with issues that arise in the new democracy. Further, this empirical evidence is important as a basis for future media policies (McClain 1994).
The brief for the project conducted by the Graduate Programme in Cultural and Media Studies (CMS) was in Human Resource Development. The project had to explore issues in human resources, such as demographic distribution within the organisations, recruitment, promotions, experiences of staff access to media and affirmative action. Further, UNESCO envisaged that the information would be used in the conducting of three workshops. Firstly, a round table conference conducted by the Department of Communication. Secondly, workshops enabling management to address issues relating to gender equality and raise gender awareness. Thirdly, increasing gender awareness amongst journalists. The Graduate Programme in Cultural and Media Studies (CMS) will conduct the latter two. The particular focus of the project was women in the media. The brief to CMS included a complementary project on Public Service Broadcasting, exploring the history, theory and future of public service broadcasting in South Africa.