Peddling the American Dream

THERE IS SOMETHING ABOUT doing 140km/h on a Jo’burg highway at 4:30pm on a weekday with no car in sight — except for the thousands of poor suckers who aren’t going anywhere, backed up and blocked from every onramp — that screams: hanging out with Michelle Obama is very, very cool. Africa’s economic capital cameContinue reading “Peddling the American Dream”

On the death of the bookstore

It was the New Yorker cover that started it all. In December last year, the front of the magazine of the chattering literary classes showed a young bookshop attendant in takkies pointing a perplexed older man in a suit towards a two-tiered bookshelf. On it were William Shakespeare and Mark Twain bobble heads, baseball caps inscribed withContinue reading “On the death of the bookstore”

Radio Ramallah

WORLD LEADERS HAVE TRIED EVERYTHING FROM HIGH-LEVEL negotiations to prayer to get some peace in the Middle East. Issie Kirsh has a different approach. He’s going to serenade them. Then, when the Palestinians and Israelis are enraptured with music, he’s going to get the people to talk. Late last year, the man who started 702Continue reading “Radio Ramallah”

Going for the Gold

I’VE GOT A GREAT SCRIPT FOR A HOLLYWOOD MOVIE. Here’s the set-up: a US basketball star, known for his massive philanthropic contributions, sets up a gold deal in a New York hotel room, complete with a PowerPoint presentation, with a politically well-connected Texas oilman and a shady Houston-based diamond dealer. After a serious of run-arounds,Continue reading “Going for the Gold”

Slumming with the Sun

SO YOU DON’T LIKE NASTY TABLOIDS THAT DEBASE OUR SOCIETY with preposterous stories of tokoloshes and gory muthi murders infused with a solid dose of xenophobia, racism and sexism? Well, the Daily Sun isn’t talking to you. Who it is talking to is the people, and the people have spoken. And four million of themContinue reading “Slumming with the Sun”

How 702 Got Its Groove Back

THE DIGITAL CLOCK GLARES DOWN IN RED NEON from its position above the Talk Radio 702 news desk. It’s 9.28 on a Thursday morning in early April and Johannesburg news editor Katy Katopodis, long unruly black hair, brown eyes, corduroy jeans and an olive-coloured sweater, is sitting cross-legged on a low slung office chair inContinue reading “How 702 Got Its Groove Back”

The Broadcaster Has No Clothes

WHEN THE BILLBOARDS WENT UP AT OR TAMBO, Durban, and Cape Town International Airports at the end of March, they marked the first glimpse of what’s coming soon to a TV near you. Those larger-than-life faces beaming down are SABC’s international correspondents, reporting from bureaus in Jamaica, Senegal, Nigeria, China, Kenya, Harare, Sao Paolo, London,Continue reading “The Broadcaster Has No Clothes”

And Now for the Bad News

TSHIVIS TSHIVUADI SITS AMONG PILES OF THIN, tabloid-size newspapers that sprawl in alternating heights across his wooden desk. The general secretary of Journalists in Danger (JED), a not-for-profit group funded by various British, French and Swiss organisations, has a wide face and thick fingers. He sits under the fluorescent lights, shielded from the afternoon sunContinue reading “And Now for the Bad News”