Recurring xenophobic attacks on perceived foreign immigrants stand out as one of the major setbacks on South Africa’s envisaged ‘rainbow’ nation discourse. These attacks remain a topical issue in, academic, media, social, economic and political circles. While a significant body of literature explores the coverage of migration and xenophobia issues in the South African mainstream press, studies examining media coverage of xenophobia research from research institutions are scarce. This study explores the [re]-presentation of xenophobia research findings in two popular South African newspapers: the Mail & Guardian and the Sowetan from 2008 to 2013. The study utilizes a qualitative research approach. Findings show that the two analyzed newspapers uncritically picked up stories and purveyed them without a strong base facilitated by empirical research. In essence, empirical research findings were selectively utilized to ‘authenticate’ or legitimize convenient ideological positions. Finally, a clear tension between discourses of ‘empirical knowledge’ and ‘popular perceptions’; was evident in analyzed stories.

Title: [Re]-presenting knowledge: The coverage of xenophobia research in selected South African newspapers, 2008 -2013

Author: Kudakwashe Paul Vanyoro, Lyton Ncube