American press reportage on PW Botha's attempts at reforming apartheid, 1978-1989, with specific reference to the New York Times, Newsweek and Africa Report
Machaba, T. A.
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Prime Minister PW Botha took over power from BJ Vorster in the midst of a strenuous period in the history of South Africa. The country was criticized internally and externally for its apartheid policy. In response to the criticism, Botha decided to introduce some reforms. This article looks at how Botha’s reform initiative was perceived by the American press with specific reference to the New York Times, Africa Report and Newsweek. Three publications were selected for the survey because the New York Times is critical of the Republicans and supports the Democrats. Africa Report is selected because it holds a liberal pro-black view and Newsweek holds a slightly conservative pro–white view. Thus, all combined, they are generally representative of the American view. The article will analyse how the US media reported and reacted to Botha’s reform policy in general and to its specific aspects. Consideration will also be given to language usage so as to be able to find out any hidden meanings and insinuations in specific words or headlines. Focus will also be put on how Botha reacted to the criticism levelled against him and his reform initiative by the US media. Finally attention will also be placed on how the American press interpreted Botha’s role as a prelude to future negotiations and the part played by his successor, FW de Klerk, in putting apartheid to rest.