The Sunday Times and the Mail & Guardian have emerged as the most influential media in terms of the frequency with which they are quoted by other media, writes Bate Felix.

The latest Media Tenor survey puts the Sunday Times in first position and the M&G second, overtaking Mnet’s flagship investigative journalism programme Carte Blanche that has been leading the survey since its inception in 2000.

But since 2005, the programme has seen a sharp dip in its previously strong lead, and last year the programme slipped to third position.

The Sunday Times and M&G continued to show positive “growth in their reputations, as they become the trusted destination for ground-breaking news,” said the Media Tenor report.

The Mail & Guardian editor Ferial Haffajee said the paper’s prominence in other media could be attributed to the fact that it was often in court during 2006.

In addition, “our news is always fresh,” and “we try to get opinion makers to write columns for us, and they stir a lot of debates through these columns which also get quoted a lot,” she said.

In spite of the drop to third place, George Mazarakis, Carte Blanche’s executive producer, said that they were honoured to be in such good company as the Sunday Times and Mail and Guardian who have consistently been breaking story after story.

“I suppose it’s about doing things right, doing stories that are important, and touching things that are topical to everybody,” said Mazarakis.

Having led the pack for the past six years, Mazarakis added that “it has been quite a track record to maintain,” which “can also be attributed to the quality of our journalism which is outstanding.”

“Even though we are a weekly programme on television and on a paid channel, operating in a very tight medium, it shows that we have been doing things right,” he added.

“The programme has been going on for 19 years and it has proven its credibility, that is why it is still quoted and used as a source by other media,” said Mazarakis.

Afrikaans papers Beeld and Die Burger also improved their standings in the latest survey. Beeld moved from 12th position in 2005 to 7th in the latest survey, while Die Burger moved from 14th to 8th.

The fact that they “generate most of their own content, coupled with their steady climb in citations from other media, is indicative of quality journalism driving their reputation,” the Media Tenor report said.