Marikana News Analysis

This news analysis focuses on the Marikana strikes that occurred from the tenth to the twentieth of August last year. The strike was at the Lonmin Marikana mines. During the course of the strike, 34 people were killed and 78 were injured, the majority of the deaths occurring on the sixteenth of August when police opened fire on the striking miners. The cause of the strike was the miners’ request for higher wages. Some believe the violence escalated due to rivalry between two miners’ unions, NUM and AMCU. The three articles chosen best cover the Marikana story from all possible angles. The first highlights the social injustices encountered during and in the aftermath of Marikana. The second gives salience to political issues brought forward by Marikana and the last emphasises the effect Marikana has had on the South African economy.
The first article is from Daily Maverick ( a South African, independent online newspaper, owned by a private company. The article ( Apartheid and The Marikana Murder Charges: A Common Purpose Indeed, is framed within an Apartheid context; comparing Marikana to events during apartheid. People reading this piece will react negatively to Marikana, given this frame, because that is the general response to any news reminiscent of Apartheid. There is evident agenda-setting in this article given the frame. By framing the piece within apartheid, the writer is calling on the reader to be outraged; drawing on public perception that things that happened during apartheid should not be happening now.
This article is an example of priming because it starts with the concept of common purpose in apartheid. Apartheid alone has many negative connotations. Then it discusses common purpose with regards to Marikana. The way in which the audience reacts to the information presented or the activation tags developed in the first part of the article are carried onto the second part of the article.
This article does not try for objectivity, immediately taking a viewpoint against the court ruling. In that respect one could say that the article is biased, it takes for granted the public’s opinion on common purpose. Although the article is morally right in assuming that opinion, as a news article, it could have been more objective, highlighting possible reasons the court ruled in favour of common purpose.
The second article is from The Nation (, an American weekly magazine owned by The Nation Company. South Africa’s Marikana Moment ( ) was also published in the October, 8th Edition of their magazine. Because the magazine is American, it appears as if there is not much agenda-setting, considering the piece is politically-oriented. But because Marikana was an international story, there are hints of agenda-setting where the article draws on existing unrest between the ANC and the public.
This article is framed within a political context. It focuses more on the party in power, the ANC, does not draw much parallel between apartheid and Marikana and seems to think the parallels drawn between the two to be over-exaggerated. It emphasizes international and local belief that there is evident need for change in government but there is no worthy opponent.
It is a very well primed piece, drawing attention away from apartheid, insisting instead that the issues at Marikana were more politically and economically oriented. The author primes the audience away from apartheid to issues the South African government is dealing with now, the issues he thinks are more important. The article uses Marikana as a way to give salience to issues not obvious before and provides possible solutions.
By priming the audience for a political approach, the article is news because even though there had been articles about political issues, none of the others delved as deeply into the issues the ANC faces in the aftermath of Marikana.
This article tries for objectivity by not blaming the ANC for Marikana but it is evident that although not abjectly against the ANC, the author does believe that for change to occur; there is need for political change. Because of this, the article is biased but not overtly so. It does take advantage of popular belief that there is need for political change in South Africa.
The last article is from the Mail & Guardian ( a South African weekly newspaper owned by M&G Media. It is a self-owned, independent newspaper. The article, The Economic Impact of Marikana ( ) is a business-oriented piece, highlighting, as the title suggests, the economic impact of the events at Marikana.
Although the article does acknowledge the violence Marikana produced, it is more focused on the economic impact the event had on the country. The article gives salience to and is framed around problems in the government with regards to labour in relation to its impact on the economy. It primes the audience away from social aspects of Marikana and focuses more on the economic factors.
The article is still news because it introduces a new conflict to the Marikana event. Where some believe that Marikana had a negative impact on the economy, others believe otherwise; seeing the event as an eye-opener to the government forcing them to take a firmer hand with labour issues. By managing to point out both sides of the economic aftermath, the article avoids agenda-setting. Although the article points out weaknesses within the labour structure of the government, it is not against the government.
Of all the articles chosen, this is the most objective, but not completely. It suggests that Marikana did not have as bad an effect on the economy as is popular belief. Because it takes this particularly unpopular view, one could suggest that it does, to some extent, seem unbiased but, because it chooses a side, it is biased despite being the more unpopular view.
All the articles chosen offer a different picture of the same story and they are all news in their own respect. They are all examples of the different ways in which news can be conveyed, despite it being about the same event.

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