Shoddy journalism muddles Manyi issue

2011-03-12 14:02

I am not a kykNet viewer, so I missed Freek Robinson’s interview with ­Jimmy Manyi last year.

I don’t know how the conversation developed to the point where Manyi said what is now well publicised, so I am not able to evaluate his statement in its proper context.

kykNet has decided against rebroadcasting the interview, which would have allowed us to assess Manyi’s statement. This is a pity as this issue is of such ­immense public interest.

Robinson appears to have disappeared completely.

An experienced interviewer like him would probably have challenged Manyi, whose responses to his follow-up questions would have given us valuable insights into the thinking behind them.

Again, we are unable to get access to his account of events.

We are equally ­deprived of an opportunity for (Solidarity deputy general secretary) Dirk Hermann to explain his response to Manyi – and why the outrage only a year later.

These are routine enquiries that should be made by any journalist covering the story.

It is even more important that ­editors and others offering opinion engage in extensive enquiry because of the influence they exercise on the public.

When opinion is offered based on poor background information there is the ­possibility of misleading the public.
Most articles on the story displayed a disturbing inability to properly think through the noise generated by it.

Journalists should have sufficient intellectual depth to meaningfully scrutinise information and the motives of those who make it available.

It is ridiculous to suggest that journalists oppose transformation, but is raises a pertinent question when a known opponent of transformation feeds them carefully edited information and they don’t think to enquire further.

It is indicative of a dangerous weakness when politicians advocate for a media ­tribunal to punish sloppy journalism.

I am an opponent of such a body and am against journalists who have no appreciation of the significance of their responsibility to society.

I have even less respect for those who get carried away by propaganda and fail to produce background information and facts on key issues.

I get offended when my intellect as a reader is insulted by journalism which assumes I lack the depth to notice shoddy reporting.

Manyi could be a dangerous racist but I cannot use a 70-second clip as a basis for that conclusion.

As Bertrand Russell said: in the final analysis this is our own fault. We get mediocre news coverage because we consume mediocrity with immense satisfaction.

We have an entrenched culture of intellectual laziness that deprives us of vital discourse on divisive issues.

This is the real tragedy. Manyi is just a momentary sideshow before we get consumed by the next scandal.

Zibi is a communications specialist and a member of the Midrand Group. He writes in his personal ­capacity 

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