The media has no space for the poor to raise their views, ANC president Jacob Zuma said, according to a report on iol.co.za.

He was addressing Leadership magazine's "Tomorrow's Leaders" convention in Pretoria on the importance of developing excellence in strong and effective communication within the public and private sectors.

He said the recent xenophobic attacks were about angry people who felt they had not been allowed space to communicate their concerns and grievances.

"Direct two-way communication is at times the most effective form of communication. Community media offers some hope for broadening access and representation within the media.

"It offers an opportunity to give practical meaning to the right of freedom of expression. But it is small, under-resourced and under-capacitated," he said.

The ANC president said that communication was not value-free – and neither was it neutral.

"It has a bias and an ideological underpinning – even though this may not be evident, even to the communicator.

"We all know that what we read or hear or see through the media will have a particular slant depending on the perspectives, preoccupations, prejudices or interests of the producer, presenter or editor," said Zuma.

News may also have a slant based on class, race or region, he said.

Workers would argue that they did not see much of themselves in the media – print or electronic.

"They are usually mentioned in stories relating to labour disputes and rarely in articles that provide positive messages of contributing to the growth of the economy."

He said in the past, the media was largely an instrument of exclusion, designed to meet the needs of a small minority.

"Through a combination of factors like ownership patterns, state censorship and news-room culture, the voices of black South Africans were absent from mainstream public discourse.

"They did not have a voice in Parliament, in the boardroom or the pages of the country's newspapers or on its airwaves," he said.

Zuma highlighted that the situation had changed dramatically.

"Slowly, black South Africans are beginning to occupy a more prominent position within the economy, owning businesses, managing companies, and taking up professions that were previously closed to them," he said.

Click here to read the full report, posted on iol.co.za.