John Matisonn, journalist, author, past Editorial Director of THISDAY newspaper

The media was one of the first sectors to change in South Africa after apartheid. This three-lecture course will argue that its future is now at risk not only because of government measures such as the Secrecy Bill but also because of changes of ownership amid the technological revolution. The course will draw on new research as well as the lecturer’s firsthand knowledge of key events, including the original exposés of the Broederbond and Muldergate, apartheid era attempts to stop reporting on corruption, the downfall of the Rand Daily Mail, the establishment of the Nigerian-backed and short-lived THISDAY newspaper, the Truth Commission hearings on the media, and the opening of the airwaves after 1994. It will describe the influence of two men who set the philosophy of the SABC: Lord John Reith, founder of the BBC, and Dr Piet Meyer, a Nationalist leader. The role of Charles Bloomberg, a journalist who pioneered the exposure of Meyer and the Afrikaner Broederbond, will be explored, as will Muldergate, the scandal driven by Prime Minister John Vorster’s determination to stop the anti-apartheid Rand Daily Mail newspaper. The course will show how the apartheid government spent millions of rands to influence, buy, bribe or close newspapers and media, civil society organisations and churches around the world. The final lecture will explain how the media changed at the end of apartheid, how the Truth Commission hearings on the media influenced that change, the new era of the Secrecy Bill and new ownership of key media institutions.

1.    The Scottish Lord, the student Nazi, and Mandela’s secret friend
2.    John Vorster’s drive to destroy the Rand Daily Mail
3.    The TRC, Irish carpetbaggers and the opening of the airwaves

Recommended reading
Matisonn, J. God, Spies and Lies: The War of Ideas in Apartheid South Africa, to be published February 2014.


Course code: 1019

Date & time: Monday 20–Wednesday 22 January 3.30 pm


Full: R225,00

Staff: R112,00

Reduced: R57,00