THE USE OF RESEARCH IN GOVERNMENT COMMUNICATION AND DISSEMINATION OF GOVERNMENT INFORMATION IN SOUTH AFRICA

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CHAPTER 3 THE USE OF RESEARCH IN GOVERNMENT COMMUNICATION AND DISSEMINATION OF GOVERNMENT INFORMATION IN SOUTH AFRICA – UP TO THE LAUNCH OF THE GOVERNMENT COMMUNICATION AND INFORMATION SYSTEM

INTRODUCTION

In chapter 3 the researcher provides an overview of the use of research in government communication and the dissemination of government information in South Africa by a central institution in the Public Service from 1936 up to the launch of the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) on 18 May 1998. This includes:

  • the period up to the establishment of the Bureau for Information
  • the time of the Bureau for Information, 1 September 1985 to 30 April 1991
  • the South African Communication Service (SACS), 1 May 1991 to 17 May 1998.

Throughout chapter 3, specific reference is made to the use of research to promote the effectiveness of government communication and the dissemination of government information.
The process of reviewing and transforming government communication after the new constitutional dispensation was introduced in 1994 and the use of research in government communication since the launch of GCIS is given attention in chapter 4.

THE PERIOD UP TO THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE BUREAU FOR INFORMATION

The period from 1936 to 26 November 1961

The State Information Bureau, Department of the Prime Minister –1936 to 1939

On 29 January 1936 the Public Service Commission approved one post of “Information Officer” as a permanent position in a newly-created State Information Bureau in the Department of the Prime Minister (Hansard, cited by Mulder, 1975:10). According to Muller and van Jaarsveld (cited by Mulder, 1975:10), the establishment of this post must be seen against the background of circumstances in South Africa and outside its borders during 1936 to 1939. Within the country it was the period after the political merger of Hertzog and Smuts. Outside the borders of South Africa it was the time of the rise of Germany and pre-war turbulence in Europe. Wilson (cited by Mulder, 1975:1) mentioned that Genl JBM Hertzog, the Prime Minister, experienced many problems with the press at the time. After extensive criticism by the opposition and advertisement of the post in the media, an appointment was made on 9 May 1937 – one year and four months after approval of the post (Hansard, cited by Mulder, 1975: 13 and 16). The functions of the Information Officer were primarily to liaise with the press and to provide information to the press. According to Hansard (cited by Mulder, 1975:15), government expected from the person to ensure that the press received the correct information and to assist the press if they had the wrong information. After a personal interview with the relevant official, Mulder (1975:16) mentions that he did not perform above-mentioned functions but had to read newspapers and prepare newspaper clippings

The State Information Bureau, Department of the Interior – 1939 to 1946

According to the Report of the Department of Information for 1 April 1969 to 31 March 1971 (p.4), the State Information Bureau was transferred to the Department of the Interior after the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939. After “extensive investigation” Mulder (1975:26) concluded that the most important function of the State Information Bureau during this period was to disseminate propaganda regarding the war openly. Additional to disseminating information from the government to the public, the Bureau also regarded the provision of information from the public to the government as its responsibility (Mulder, 1975:45). “It was also vital to keep the Government informed as to what the public was thinking and one of the functions of the Press Section of the Bureau was to compile a daily press report outlining the criticisms which had appeared in the newspapers that morning and the evening before. The report was distributed to Cabinet Ministers and a limited number of officials. Where it was thought advisable, the attention of the responsible Minister or head of the Department was drawn to a specific complaint or grievance ventilated in the press” (article by unknown author in The Nonqa, cited by Mulder, 1975:45).
This initiative to inform government about “what the public was thinking”, can be regarded as the first recognition of the importance of feedback from the public to promote the effectiveness of government communication and the dissemination of government information. Mulder (1975:45) states that this feedback of information from the population to the government, and which resulted in the Bureau becoming a two-way channel, was especially emphasised by Dr HF Verwoerd as an important function of such an information service in the period after 1948.

The State Information Office, Department of the Interior and the Native Information Service– 1947 to 1954

Towards the end of the war, a number of investigations aimed at redefining the peace-time function of the Bureau were conducted. This resulted in the founding of the State Information Office in the Department of the Interior as successor to the State Information Bureau on 1 January 1947 (Department of Information, 1971:4). The functions of the State Information Office, as determined by the Interdepartmental Commission of 1945, are summarised as follows in the 1951 Annual Report of the State Information Office (State Information Office, 1952:4):

  • to co-ordinate the publicity services of the State
  • to arrange for the publication of official statements
  • to assist State departments with their work of enlightenment
  • to provide the Union’s foreign representatives with information
  • to advise the Government on information and publicity matters.
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After the National Party came into power on 26 May 1948, Cabinet decided that the reorganisation, expansion and furtherance of the Union’s information service abroad should also be entrusted to the State Information Office. In respect of the information service abroad the necessary co-ordination was affected with the Department of External Affairs. Although the Information Attachés were staff members of the State Information Office, they performed their work under the direct supervision of the heads of missions (State Information Office, 1952:4). According to the review of the activities of the different sections in the abovementioned Annual Report (1952:8-25) the professional staff of the State Information Office were sub-divided into the following seven sections:

  • Foreign
  • Press
  • Visual Publicity
  • Publications
  • Films
  • Research and Reference

Regarding the Research and Reference section, the Annual Report of the State Information Office for 1951 (1952:22) reads as follows:
This section comprises a large reference library and is responsible for the daily filing and indexing of South African and overseas news items under more than 2 000 separate headings, serves 13 Information Attachés and 10 South African missions abroad with airmailed newspaper cuttings, and answers queries about South African affairs received by telephone, letter and cable from all quarters of the globe.
The most important objective of the State Information Office in this period was to disseminate government information abroad. Within South Africa the State Information Office was a passive publicity office, providing information in South Africa only on request of government departments. Information was mostly provided to newspapers and not directly to the public (Mulder, 1975:97).
Towards the end of 1952 the first information officers were appointed by the newly-established Native Information Service to provide information to ‘Natives’ regarding the government’s policies and objectives. The service was also expected to provide information back to the government. Whilst the State Information Office almost exclusively disseminated information abroad, the Native Information Service provided this service within South Africa (Mulder, 1975:95).

ABSTRACT
EKSERP
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT
CHAPTER  1 INTRODUCTION 
1.1 Background
1.2 Aim and objectives of this research
1.3 Demarcation
1.4 Methodology
1.5 Problems experienced with the research
1.6 Necessity of research for Information Science
1.7 Terminology
1.7.1 Clarification of terms
1.7.2 Abbreviations
1.8 Division of chapters
CHAPTER 2 RESEARCH IN COMMUNICATION – A BRIEF THEORETIC OVERVIEW 
2.1 Introduction
2.2 Communication research defined
2.3 Types of research
2.3.1 Introduction
2.3.2 Different types of research
2.3.2.1 Quantitative and qualitative research
2.3.2.2 Basic and applied research
2.3.2.3 Different objectives of social research
2.3.3 Summary
2.4 The research process
2.4.1 Introduction
2.4.2 Steps in the research process
2.4.2.1 Identifying and formulating the problem
2.4.2.2 Deciding on what kind of data is required
2.4.2.3 Exploring secondary data sources
2.4.2.4 Revising and fine-tuning the research question
2.4.2.5 Designing the research study
2.4.2.6 Determining the sample
2.4.2.7 Allocating funds and resources
2.4.2.8 Writing and presenting the research proposal
2.4.2.9 Conducting a pilot test
2.4.2.10 Collecting primary data
2.4.2.11 Analysing and interpreting the data
2.4.2.12 Reporting the results
2.5 Challenges of communication research
2.5.1 The challenge of breadth and focus
2.5.2 The multiple methods challenge
2.5.3 The scholarly rigour challenge
2.5.4 The personal challenge
2.5.5 The ethical challenge
2.5.6 The structure of the field challenge
2.5.7 Other challenges
2.6 The use of communication research by governments
2.7 Summary
CHAPTER 3 THE USE OF RESEARCH IN GOVERNMENT COMMUNICATION AND DISSEMINATION OF GOVERNMENT INFORMATION IN SOUTH AFRICA – UP TO THE LAUNCH OF THE GOVERNMENT COMMUNICATION AND INFORMATION SYSTEM 
3.1 Introduction
3.2 The period up to the establishment of the Bureau for Information
3.3 The Bureau for Information – 17 September 1985 to 30 April 1991
3.4 The South African Communication Service – 1 May 1991 to 17 May 1998
3.5 The use of research in government communication and dissemination of government information, 1936 to 17 May 1998 – a summary
CHAPTER 4 TRANSFORMATION OF GOVERNMENT COMMUNICATION IN SOUTH AFRICA AFTER 1994 AND THE USE OF RESEARCH BY THE GOVERNMENT COMMUNICATION AND INFORMATION SYSTEM SINCE 18 MAY 1998 
4.1 Introduction
4.2 Transformation of government communication in South Africa after 1994
4.3 The Government Communication and Information System – 18 May 1998 to date
4.4 Summary
CHAPTER 5 GOVERNMENT COMMUNICATION AND DISSEMINATION OF GOVERNMENT INFORMATION IN OTHER COUNTRIES WITH SPECIFIC REFERENCE TO THE USE OF RESEARCH 
5.1 Introduction
5.2 International trends in government communication and dissemination of government information – an overview
5.3 Government communication and dissemination of  government information with specific reference to research -the position in three countries using research to a relatively large extent
5.4 Government communication and dissemination of government information with specific reference to research -a short discussion regarding the position in some other countries
5.5 Conclusion: What can South Africa learn from other countries in terms of the use of research to enhance effectiveness of government communication and dissemination of government information?
CHAPTER 6 CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS 
6.1 Introduction
6.2 Conclusion
6.3 Recommendations
6.4 Further research recommended
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