Lizette Rabe

Brave new thinkers needed

2006-09-22 08:09

Lizette Rabe

There is one story that has not been told in the flood of stories commemorating 9/11. That is the need for a new journalism. A need for new journalists. Brave new hearts.

This is one conclusion after last week's deluge of commemorations of the 9/11 event.

Everything was to be expected in our daily media feed, pre- and post-commemoration.

Coming from the United States: It confirmed that the American media, like the American people, still think their country is the centre of the universe.

Pluto might since have lost its position as a planet, but don't think Americans have come to realise they have also been relegated to a new position in terms of a post-9/11 world.

Granted, the amount of damage they did to our world order since, make them an even more dangerous entity.

The US as the centre of the universe

But back to the media coverage: one actually dreaded the anticipated five year commemorative melodrama, sentiments and American propaganda that would come with it.

Please accept this observer's sympathy and empathy with those who lost their lives, and those who were left behind to make new sense of a world that does not make sense.

But after five years of getting to some sense of a "verstehen", as academia like to call it, of how our world has changed since 9/11, we're still getting the same type of zero-intelligence stories out of Ground Zero.

The same coverage of events, the same debates, the same perspective stories. The angle that America is the centre of the universe and, oh, we should all kneel down in awe and admiration.

Well, no. When will the majority of American media get it?

When will a new way of doing journalism, providing new levels of understanding, replace the expected regurgitated pro-American junk journalism? When will we be getting quality think pieces?

Ok, of course I'm exaggerating.

We need new angles

But when are we going to get new angles? New perspectives? New insights? Angles that would really give coverage and evoke debate and provide perspective instead of re-hashing a stale Americanised take on an event that changed our world?

Of course, it doesn't only apply to what is coming from the north across the Atlantic.

We should ask ourselves how South African journalism can do its own thing. Why play follow America? If we can do so much better?

As an example: Why, oh why, did some of our first radio news bulletins on 11 September lead with a story that that Bush-man laid a wreath at Ground Zero? Was that really the most important news on the morning five years after?

Who decided on such an Americanised news angle?

Please, gatekeepers and agenda setters in our newsrooms: Let's keep our own gates and set our own agendas. With our own stories, with a South African focus. Let's not follow American-centred gatekeeping and agenda setting. We don't need it in our post 9/11 world.

Deadline pressure

It's difficult to be a journalist, agreed. To make the right decision under the threat of a deadline. But that's why we are in journalism. To think and do in new ways. That's why I expected more of the coverage of 9/11.

Luckily, in journalism we always have another opportunity to do it better.

So: Brave new thinkers needed. Who can inform and educate - and yes, also entertain - our nation in a new way. South Africa deserves better.

  • Lizette Rabe is head of the postgraduate Department of Journalism at the University of Stellenbosch, a Sanef council member and Sanef-convenor for the Western Cape. And she's addicted to news.

    Send your comments to Lizette

    Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of users published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.


  • SHARE: publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

    Comment on this story
    Comments have been closed for this article.

    Inside News24

    Traffic Alerts
    There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


    Create Profile

    Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

    Please provide a username for your profile page:

    This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


    Location Settings

    News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

    Facebook Sign-In

    Hi News addict,

    Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

    Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.