The Protection of Information Bill and Access to Information in South Africa: An Informetric Study of the Media Coverage
Increased prominence and repetition of names of people, issues and organisations through media coverage have the potential to raise public recognition and attitudes towards the subject. The issues regarding access to, and protection of, information are no exception. Massive media coverage of these subjects can increase the public knowledge and raise awareness on the subject of access to, and protection of, information. The purpose of this study is to analyse in a qualitative and quantitative manner, the national print media coverage of legislative issues relating to the access to, and protection of, information in South Africa between 1981 and 2011. The study extracted data from the South African Media database, which is one of the databases hosted by SABINET (South AfricanBibliographic and Information Network). Adopting an advanced search strategy of combining various search terms resulted in a total of 392 articles which were analyzed using different analytical tools and computer software to obtain frequencies of occurrences of the most common title words, subject terms, and subject categories. Other variables that were analyzed included the most productive newspaper (media). The trend of media coverage of information protection and access (including the media bill) were also investigated in the study. Preliminary findings suggest that the media coverage of the protection of, and access to, information during the period under study was very high. The study concludes by arguing that the 2010 Information Protection Bill has received massive coverage due to the fact that it has a negative impact on the work of the journalists and the information society, in general. Conclusions and recommendations for further research are offered.
Keywords: Protection of Information, Access to Information, Freedom of Information, Media Bill, Privacy, South Africa, Print Media, Informetrics