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I immediately thought of fellow columnist Anton Harber and his recent plea for the restoration of news reporting when I read the first rather poor account of SA passport-holders somewhere overseas being made to do a test in Afrikaans before being allowed to travel.

To be fair, news evolves as facts emerge, and it’s always a bit silly to judge a newspaper or media platform by a single report on, or a single day’s coverage of, an unfolding story. But, as the days went by and the story became clearer — Ryanair, not customs officials, emerged as the central figure in the rather bizarre affair (and, by the way, I recommend The New York Times London staffer Emma Bubola’s piece of June 7) — I became more interested in the invariably matter-of-fact statements about Afrikaans and what it was taken to symbolise, and how news is critical in framing such conceptions...

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