The South African mediated public sphere is noisy, fractious, opinionated, often aggressive and very, very busy. A range of new actors are using social media to set agendas for news consumption as well as for activism. How do journalists navigate spaces in which other types of commentators have become very influential? How do they establish spaces for discussion, select the commentators, set the agenda and orchestrate the dynamics of engagement? What are the implications for society of the dramatic changes in public discussion of the last few years? Do the media still have a specific role to play, and what should that role be?
These questions are raised in the recently published book Babel Unbound: Rage, Reason and Rethinking Public Life, edited by Lesley Cowling and Carolyn Hamilton. To discuss these issues, three of the chapter authors – Lesley Cowling, Litheko Modisane and Anthea Garman – will be speaking in a webinar on 23 September at 1pm South African time, facilitated by Franz Kruger. The webinar is hosted by Wits Journalism and the Rhodes School of Journalism and Media Studies.