This is an important project, supporting the claim that even in the oppressive climate of 1980s apartheid South Africa, the local newspapers created or identified certain rhetorical spaces in which to register various forms of verbal resistance.
The period of apartheid was a perilous time in South Africa’s history. This book examines the tactics of resistance developed by those working for the Weekly Mail and New Nation, two opposition newspapers published in South Africa in the mid- and late 1980s. The government, in an attempt to crack down on the massive political resistance sweeping the country, had imposed martial law and imposed even greater restrictions on the press. Bryan Trabold examines the writing, legal, and political strategies developed by those working for these newspapers to challenge the censorship restrictions as much as possible—without getting banned. Despite the many steps taken by the government to silence them, including detaining the editor of New Nation for two years and temporarily closing both newspapers, the Weekly Mail and New Nation not only continued to publish but actually increased their circulations and obtained strong domestic and international support. New Nation ceased publication in 1994 after South Africa made the transition to democracy, but the Weekly Mail, now the Mail & Guardian, continues to publish and remains one of South Africa’s most respected newspapers.
The book's central focus is on the strategies--rhetorical, legal, political--that anti-apartheid newspapers employed to report on matters that were prohibited by the government’s strict censorship laws. Trabold presents a well-written, compelling textual analysis alongside good empirical interview material.
Trabold describes the courage and cunning of two opposition South African newspapers during the 1980s. He details how the resources Weekly Mail and New Nation survived despite the imposition of martial law and significant restrictions on press freedom in then-apartheid South Africa.
Bryan Trabold is associate professor of English at Suffolk University in Boston, Massachusetts, and a research associate with the Visual Identities in Art and Design Centre at the University of Johannesburg, South Africa.