Moderate witness : the English language press and liberal discourse in militarized South Africa, 1976-1988 : a case study of the Natal Witness.
This thesis investigates the English language press and its coverage of protest struggles and backlash, border wars and related militarisation of society in the critical years of South African political change between 1976 and 1988. The widespread reputation of Natal liberalism has led researchers to debate the extent to which the independent Natal Witness was a politically oppositional paper and raises interesting questions about the construction ofliberalism itself as a political doctrine. I examine the Natal Witness as a case study - an English language newspaper based in the province that was then called Natal. In this study, I focus on key events related to violent political conflict to determine how this newspaper reported on the apartheid state's police response to protest, its military campaigns, perceived security threats to the nation, the issue of military conscription, and the increasingly violent provincial politics fought between the followers of the United Democratic front (UDF) and Inkatha. I describe the coverage of the Witness at length and show how various mediums (news articles, letters, and opinion pieces) and various sources conveyed events to its readership. I assess the content and its ambiguities to paint a complex and detailed picture of how discourses shifted with events and over time.