The print media bows to nobody

2012-02-11 08:59

Since I missed out on that meeting between ANC deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe and members of the media (someone forgot to email me the invitation), I have wondered how far that meeting went?

You see, with meetings of this nature, it is never advisable to take anything at face value.

To look at the real cause of this tension between the ruling party and the media, especially print media, the two parties would have to be very frank with each other.

I seriously do not believe that both sides laid all their cards on the table, so that each understands exactly where the other stands.

What I mean is that when you consider all sections of the media– broadcast, electronic, social and print– the latter is the most principled of the lot.

You see many principles that are held dear by the media, including the ­defence of the independence of the media, protection of media sources and the right of the media to go about doing its business unhindered, are taken very seriously by Print.

Print hates it when it is put in a position where it has to compromise on anything to do with principles of journalism.

Print most definitely considers itself the big brother of his siblings and rightly or wrongly believes that it rests on his shoulders to protect the craft.

No newspaper man or woman worth the title wants to give in to the authorities as a matter of principle.

With their craft, print journalists regard themselves as combatants along the same lines as those freedom fighters who are involved in national liberation struggles.

Unless the ruling party was made to understand this, that meeting with the deputy president did not go to the heart of the problem.

Reporters are, as a matter of habit, suspicious of all those who wield power, such as the government, just as we do not believe that those with business or commercial interest can ever do anything for the poor out of the goodness of their hearts.

Someone always wants to screw (sorry, shortchange) the poor and it rests on our shoulders as print journalists, to make sure that we are there to protect the vulnerable.

Unless this was understood by those representatives of the ruling party, no one at that meeting could claim that there was a meeting of minds.

We refused to appear before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to talk about what we published under apartheid and there is no way now that we will agree to submit to some government structure to tell us what to write and what not to publish.

That is why Print can’t understand why anyone would have a problem with a media that regulates itself.

Anyone who thinks that the print media will allow anyone or anything to regulate it clearly does not know what they are asking. That is not an option.

» Mzolo is a media commentator

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