The media has been accused of being “simplistic” and “non- analytical” in its reporting on race and xenophobia, writes Thom McLachlan in Business Day.

The Media Monitoring Project’s report on racism and xenophobia released April 18 found the country’s media industry wanting.

However, the South African Human Rights Commission lambasted the report over inadequate methodology, and the size and scope of the research. The report assessed only Johannesburg-based print media in May and June last year.

Crime was found to be the hottest topic, featuring in 16% of the stories dealing with racism and xenophobia.

Key messages found in the analysis of the articles were that “all whites are racist”, “Africans are victims” and that race was the primary explanation for crimes. The report said this left the validity of media reporting at a simplistic level, lacking sufficient explanation and proper analysis.

Prof Guy Berger, head of journalism at Rhodes University, used the same criticism against the report itself, questioning whether the depth of reporting should not be analysed further than just the articles themselves. “I think it would be useful to also interview journalists,” said Berger.

Click here to read the full report, posted on Business Day's website.