Sekunjalo! How Social Media is Bringing Real News in South Africa

2013-09-03 09:47

Empires have always lynched dissidents. They have always murdered those who could not swallow the official narrative. They have always buried those who challenged their monumental indiscretion and corruption. They have forever banished and brazenly barbecued their opponents out of existence, with all the medieval cruelty, and inquisitorial wickedness in their arsenals. To this end, empire has, and will always rise to crush those who prick its conscience; or attempt to expose its hypocrisy

Once upon a time journalism required truth to define itself!

Traditional media landscape is now shaping up in the country. We have SABC that will now focus on projecting and presenting positive news. Sekunjalo Independent Media Group that now owns such newspapers as The Star is demanding its journalists to project a positive image and not negative news. Positive news also means opposition parties will not be accommodated as their views are essentially "negative news" to the current prevailing status quo. In announcing these stands both have showed some corrugated partisanship and a surprising disregard for truth. Because now news they advance will be primarily the logical fall-outs of their worldview and those they seek to please, which stand most times impervious to reason and facts. They will simply become wandering minstrels carried away by the official narrative.

But it remains rather a splendid blasphemy whenever a journalist or editor - whose august profession within the conscience of society demands truth telling - to take liberties with the truth under the pretext of being positive, which is neither necessary nor justifiable. It blows the heart and scandalizes reason, whenever journalists allows their worthy profession as the fourth estate similar to the duties of Parliament to degenerate down to the ontological level of political correctness. It smacks of scurrility, it leaves reason embattled.

But there is hope, there is solution...

The Internet, in particular social media like facebook, twitter and blogging have superseded the traditional newspapers, television and radio. Internet has opened up possibilities for different kind of news generation and consumption. Possibilities that are far much wider and devastating than traditional controlled newspapers and television can achieve.

While there is a distance between traditional newspapers, traditional television and traditonal radio with social media there is no distance and the interaction is tremendously powerful and impacting. Many of the opposing political parties that will be denied space to air their "negative news" are armed with tens of thousands of twitter and facebook followers that they can mobilise  within the blink of a second.

Hussein Amin, professor of Mass Communication at the American University in Cairo summed it up as follows:

"Social networks have broken the psychological barrier of fear by helping many to connect and share information. It has given most people in the Arab world the knowledge that they are not alone, that there are others experiencing just as much brutality, just as much hardships, just as much lack of justice. Social networks for the first time provided activists with an opportunity to quickly disseminate information while bypassing government restrictions".

As a young democracy we need a cross pollination of different ideas for development and advancement; to unlock critical areas and chat the way forward. Ideas, just as values, are at the heart of human progress. Citizenship requires that they engage with all ideas. The market place of ideas that will allow ideas of progress to prevail needs cross pollination of different ideas. No matter how wrong or negative  you perceive ideas are, they have value in that at the least, they make us all  reflect, particularly in this, our developing democracy.

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