You are on page 1of 7

#FeesMustFall focuses

attention on tuition increases

October 14, 2015 – October 23, 2015

 Wits University: Where it all started

 Blade Nzimande criticised over lack of action
 Social media input come from across the world

Jordan Griffiths
#FeesMustFall media analysis summary

October 27, 2015 Pretoria – With the #FeesMustFall movements taking

hold across different universities in the country, Media Tenor has
conducted an analysis on how the protests have been covered in the
media. With massive amounts of media coverage being generated across
multiple platforms, we decided to focus only on reporting in online
media platforms. We chose a sample of media platforms based on their
levels of coverage and randomly selected articles from each of these
platforms for a specified time period.

Media Tenor in conjunction with Novus Online conducted a social media

analysis with a focus on the hashtag #FeesMustFall. Astoundingly, the
number of posts generated on this hashtag were over 1.3 million. Social
media coverage also spiked with momentum growing in the run-up to
the march to the Union Buildings on Friday 23 October.

In online media coverage, we saw high levels of negativity reflected

across multiple institutions and topic structures. Most notably, the
University of Witswatersrand (Wits) where the movement first started
was the institution with the most dominant media presence.

“The research also shows how Blade Nzimande was the most covered
protagonist in relation to the #FeesMustFall movement. The minister
attracted significant media coverage and faced negativity over his
response to the movement when it first started. Interestingly, a number
of student leaders at Wits were also able to ensure that they generated
media visibility and have emerged at the front of the movement” –
Jordan Griffiths researcher at Media Tenor

The research examines a sample of 1 786 reports across a number of

different online opinion leading media in South Africa. This includes
platforms like News24,,, Bdlive, Timeslive,
Daily Maverick, Mail and Guardian online, the Cape Times Online and

Media Tenor 2
Wits is where it all started

The data below only displays the at the University of Cape Town,
top 10 universities that attracted where students on the campus
the highest levels of media mobilised to march on parliament
coverage. The #FeesMustFall and later clashed with police. The
movement focused high levels of movement at Rhodes university
online media coverage on the and UPrising at the University of
University of Witswatersrand as it Pretoria were also notable drivers
was here that the movement first of coverage for each of the
started. It soon spread across the individual institutions.
country, gaining notable traction

Volume and tonality on SA universities in selected online media:

October 14, 2015 - October 23, 2015

University of Witwatersrand

University of Cape Town

Rhodes University

University of Pretoria

University of Fort Hare

University of Stellenbosch

University of Johannesburg

University of the Free State

Cape Peninsula University of
North West University

0 50 100 150 200 250 300 350

Negative No clear tone Positive

Basis: 778 reports in selected SA opinion leading media Media Tenor 3

Media aligns with criticism of high fees

Media coverage on the how the high fees can limit

#FeesMustFall movements has university access to the SA elite.
focused extensively on the As can be seen in the topic
pricing related to tuition fees in structure, coverage relating to
the country and the high institutions in the country has
increases that universities were been dominated by negativity.
proposing to their students. Social unrest/protests have been
Sentiment related to matters on a major negative driver as
tuition fees has been shaped by students shut down campuses
high levels of negativity, as across the country.
media have actively reported on

Volume and tonality on topics related to institutions affected by

October 14, 2015 - October 23, 2015

Tuition fees Tuition fees

Social unrest/protests Social unrest/protests

Education Education

Universities in general Universities in general

Student loans Student loans

Management Management

Operations Operations

Constitution Constitution

Domestic security Domestic security


0 100 200 300 400 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100%

Number of reports Negative No clear tone Positive

Basis: 792 reports in selected SA opinion leading media Media Tenor 4

EWN provides on the ground updates

EWN was the most prevalent online platforms.

online platform covering the - as one of the most prevalent
#FeesMustFall movements. reporting outlets - had the
News24 provided regular updates smallest overall ratios of
on developments as it had negativity. It covered the
numerous on-the-ground government’s reaction to the
engagements. In terms of protests and the appeal for the
tonality, there were high levels of need for an amicable solution to
negativity across the different end the fees crisis.

Share of coverage and tonality in selected SA media:

October 14, 2015 - October 23, 2015

Share of coverage spread across analysed


1% 2%4%
4% 5%

8% Cape Times online
10% 9%
The Citizen online
10% 10% The Daily Vox The Daily Vox The Citizen online Cape Times online 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100%
Negative No clear tone Positive

Basis: 1 588 reports in selected SA opinion leading media Media Tenor 5

Minister under fire over lack of action

Blade Nzimande generated high crisis. Vice Chancellors Adam

levels of media coverage after Habib, Sizwe Mabizela and Max
facing criticism in relation to the Price had a strong media
#FeesMustFall movements. presence as they had a number of
Overwhelmingly, Nzimande was engagements with students on the
the most covered protagonist in ground. Shaeera Kalla, one of the
the media as reporting focused on student leaders at Wits did well
the lack of action that had come to attract positivity after
out of the Department of Higher encouraging non-violence during
Education in dealing with the the movements.

Volume and tonality of top persons in relation to #FeesMustFall:

October 14, 2015 - October 23, 2015

Blade Nzimande Blade Nzimande

Adam Habib Adam Habib

Sizwe Mabizela Sizwe Mabizela

Max Price Max Price

Gwede Mantashe Gwede Mantashe
Mmusi Maimane Mmusi Maimane
Shaeera Kalla Shaeera Kalla
Fasiha Hassan Fasiha Hassan
Jacob Zuma Jacob Zuma
Nompendulo Mkatshwa Nompendulo Mkatshwa
Zikisa Maqubela Zikisa Maqubela
Andrew Crouch Andrew Crouch
David Maynier David Maynier
Mcebo Dlamini Mcebo Dlamini
Floyd Shivambu Floyd Shivambu

0 100 200 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100%

Number of reports Negative No clear tone Positive

Basis: 336 reports in selected SA opinion leading media Media Tenor 6

#FeesMustFall dominates social media

An analysis by Novus Online shows reaching its peak on Thursday 22

that the #FeesMustFall movement October as protestors resolved to
attracted over 1.3 million posts march on the Union Buildings.
across social media, with the most With Friday’s march and the
dominant platform being Twitter. subsequent 0% fee increase
As highlighted in the timeline, announcement by President Jacob
social media momentum on the Zuma, this further bolstered social
movement built up rapidly, media engagement.

Timeline of coverage on social media:

October 14, 2015 - October 23, 2015

Media Tenor 7

Related Interests