Does an indendent and fair media exist?

2010-10-23 00:00

TO have or not to have a media tribunal? That is not even a question as there will be an intervention, although it is still unknown what form it will take. Advocates of media freedom and freedom of speech insist that self-regulation is the best way to go on the one hand. On the other hand, there are those who say that the media cannot be player and referee. Whether or not the ANC succeeds in forming such a body, something needs to be done to change the current landscape as it has some serious shortfalls.

Cosatu’s Zwelinzima Vavi called for lifestyle audits to be carried out on certain people and I would say journalists should also be audited as such. As a former journo myself, I have seen how some journos have lived lives way beyond what their salaries could support. In the dark of night, brown envelopes and black refuse bags containing hard cash have changed hands so that they could not be traced electronically. They have PR companies that service the same departments they cover.

I remember reporters who refused to write anything negative about a group of politicians here in KwaZulu-Natal and then went on to hold key positions in provincial government departments. They were propaganda machines for government departments long before they were employed. Others have become service providers to the same departments.The issue of political party card-carrying members who are working journos and sub-editors needs to be looked into.

It is an open secret that one or more office bearers of the South African National Editors Forum (Sanef) have business dealings with the government, the same government they are supposed to be watching over as critical writers and thinkers. Talk about not biting the hand that feeds you. The media industry is not as squeaky clean as it would like most to believe and the tip of the iceberg that appears is a fraction of the sordidness that goes on behind closed doors of newsrooms.

Why do some newspapers not pronounce which political parties they support as is practised around the world? They conceal this and portray themselves as neutral, while they continue to take sides. Look at the story of a disgraced DA leader who is alleged to have had an extramarital affair with another married DA member. Papers known to side with the DA have been hush hush on this, while they reported on gory details of other individuals from other parties who were found in similar situations. Because of the allegiance the journos and editors feel for those involved in the scandal, they have treated them with kid gloves. This prompts questions whether an independent and fair media exists.

Leaders of the DA and opposition parties had a field day when Jacob Zuma’s illegitimate child came to light,while their silence has been deafening on the immoral conduct of their comrade. Never throw stones in glass houses, unless you have got Shatterprufe, even then, you may still not be off the hook.

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