Report reveals need for economic news in indigenous languages

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The mainstream media needs to produce economic news in a way that is appealing and understandable to the general public. That’s the message from a research group that released preliminary findings from their pilot stage survey.

The study found that economic news on radio is still dominated by English with indigenous languages getting less exposure.

The survey focused on indigenous languages and economics news content. Many respondents interviewed say that radio will continue to remain relevant despite the emergence of various social media platforms. But the availability of contributors in indigenous languages, especially females is a challenge.

The research found that many economic stories that are done on radio tend to focus mainly on eventualities or statistics and the focus seems to be on commercial value. And that market and financial news tend to be prioritised over news related to township economies.

University of Johannesburg Lecturer Naiefa Rashied says, “Economic news needs to be understandable and the anchor themselves needs to be approachable if that is not the case the listeners won’t really engage with the topic and many respondents want economics news to be available in as many indigenous news as possible.”

The survey found that many indigenous languages do not get as much exposure on mainstream radio.

SABC Radio has been identified as one of those that ensures that there is an even split of the commonly spoken languages. But there are instances where the language split is not entirely adhered to, requiring the anchor to explain some issues in English so that they are easily understandable.

The survey reveals that radio stations have been able to apply the right kind of pressure, leading to a change in government policy and the private sector.

Institute for Economic Justice Bandile Ngidi says, “The benefits are taking information closer to the people those are some of the themes we are exploring and communities who have low levels of education.”

The research has also found that anchors often can’t speak many indigenous languages as fluently as they need to in order to translate some of the economic terms or develop an effective translation.

However, they have acknowledged that there is a very specific licensing condition which dictates the language split with English.

The researchers intend to broaden their sample to include community radio station producers and anchors to explore the indigenous languages element.