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Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe

On-line version ISSN 2224-7912
Print version ISSN 0041-4751


RABE, Lizette. A case study: A media historiographic exploration of an early column and a later effects theory comment. Tydskr. geesteswet. [online]. 2018, vol.58, n.4-1, pp.809-825. ISSN 2224-7912.

The Afrikaans media companies that propagated Afrikaner nationalism were undoubtedly "mind managers" of Afrikaners, was the judgement in 1994 by leading South African media scholar Pieter Fourie (1994a:283; 1994b:275). The media companies he referred to were Nasionale Persand Perskor. This article investigates Fourie's statement from a media historiographic point of departure, based on a column in the 1920s in Die Burger with the title "Oom Izak van Kaapstad" [Uncle Izak from Cape Town]. It was written by Burger-journalist Izak van Tonder who created the fictional character of "'n ou man, oom Izak ... wat vroeër op 'n plaas gewoon het en vir sy oudag Kaapstad-toe getrek het" [an old man, uncle Izak ... who used to live on a farm and who, in old age, moved to Cape Town] (Van Tonder 1945:44). In addition to the focus of this article on media historiography, as an under-researched field in the South African journalism and media studies (Sonderling 1995:87; Wigston 2007:5), the article also presents a media and culture theoretical focus. It proposes namely that Fourie's "mind manager" statement is understood from the cognitive media-effects theory, in conjunction with the media historical exploration. A further relevant point of departure is suggested in the approaches of sociologists Hofstede, Hofstede and Minkov (2010:4-5). They propose that culture constitutes "mental programmes" or "software of the mind". This approach is also discussed as relevant, specifically as it can also be found in the overall media and culture theory of cognitive effects theory and its sub-theories of agenda setting and framing. Methodologically, the subject is presented as a case study, and in this research design the historical method has been applied. The broader background of the column is presented as an essential historical context, followed by a discussion of the columns. Factors that led to the development of Afrikaner nationalism, such as the South African War, the First World War and the Rebellion, are presented as important contextual references. The founding of the media company Nasionale Pers, as "organ" for Afrikaner nationalism, is also discussed as further context. Following Fourie's statement of the Afrikaans media as "mind managers", as well as the sociological point of departure of "mental programming", as suggested by Hofstede et al., this article attempts to indicate that the column under discussion could manipulate the thinking of its readers. It can therefore be suggested that the cognitive media effects theory, as understood also from within the sub-theories of agenda setting and framing, as to be found in the column, could constitute a "mind manager", and that the column could be regarded as working as a "software of the mind" programme. Thus, as a historiographic exploration of an early column, and on the basis of effects theory, together with the proposed sociological theory of "mental programming", the article's aim is to suggest that Fourie's statement on the Afrikaans media as "mind managers" can be regarded as having substance.

Keywords : Afrikaner nationalism; agenda setting; case study; cognitive effects theory; column; Die Burger; framing; historiography; "mind manager"; Nasionale Pers.

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