Saturday, August 08, 2009

Jackboot journalism stamps on our constitutional rights

By David Bullard (Richmark Sentinel)

I don't know about you but I always get irritated when a news story has no dénouement. In fact, I once had the idea of starting a newspaper thats sole purpose would be to finish off the stories that other newspapers had started. There's nothing worse than reading a tantalising bit of gossip and then combing the papers for the follow up to the story, only to find that there is none. Sometimes there really is no end to the story but, more often than not, the journalist has got bored with the story or a better story has now pushed its way onto the front page. And I am sure there have been cases of a story not being continued because the initial reporting was either wildly inaccurate or deliberately spiteful.

There will be those of you who will yawn with boredom and if that's the case then I recommend you move on. Last week I wrote that the great intellectual Xolela Mangcu and I had been invited on to Metro FM to discuss various things: among them Mangcu's allegation in his Weekender column that I had sent him a threatening e.mail. Since Mangcu has failed to produce the e.mail in the past two weeks I think we can all safely assume that he has no ethical problem with lying in his column. Needless to say, Mangcu refused to turn up and so Metro FM asked for suggestions from me as to who else we might have on the programme. I suggested Justice Malala among others. Malala's response was that he wouldn't “dignify” the proceedings with his presence; a comment that marks him as an even bigger dandiprat than I originally took him for. So the show went ahead with me as the sole guest fielding calls from the listeners. My guess is that both Malala and Mangcu were tuned in and wouldn't have been happy to hear the positive response towards me from the majority of black callers to the show.

So Malala now joins Mangcu, Mondli Makhanya and Fred Khumalo as a fellow member of what I have suggested to my former editor he calls “The Four Eunuchs”; that distinguished group of loud mouthed black “journalists” who are clearly too afraid of being exposed as liars and charlatans to risk meeting me face to face for a live discussion.

Their decision not to accept an invitation for a live debate with me because they know they would have had their sorry asses whipped though is only part of the story. The really sinister aspect of all this is that these four all take up space on the pages of major newspapers. That means that some people might be taking them seriously. They have all come out strongly in favour of silencing any opinion that doesn't accord with their own views. This is a frightening development in our young democracy.

Last tuesday, Malala took the SABC to task for giving me a platform. Khumalo has said much the same about this website in print in the July edition of The Media and last year Makhanya decided that his readers probably weren't intelligent enough to understand the Out to Lunch column so he got rid of it. Although he still has a couple of columns, Mangcu has so discredited himself as an academic that he no longer poses a lasting threat.

If we really do live in a democracy then senior newspapermen should be prepared to debate issues with people like me. I can quite understand their reluctance to do so. I have made a spectacular recovery from my sacking and I am very much a thorn in their paws. However, when I was at the Sunday Times they encouraged me to be a thorn in other people's paws so they mustn't act like cry babies now. Having unsuccessfully attempted to damage my reputation the least they can do now is have the guts to justify their actions to my face on live radio or in public debate. But they won't and for a very good reason.

Malala, Makhanya and Khumalo are doing very nicely for themselves financially (admittedly, at the expense of their colleagues). The journalistic traditions of fighting for what is right, seeking out the facts and presenting a balanced story deserted them all long ago. These days it's all about money and they are quite prepared to bend the truth if it makes their jobs safer. They are also prepared to slip those jackboots on and trample the faces of those that oppose them. The ailing Sunday Times and its sickly daughter The Times are no longer newspapers with a shred of credibility. The Sunday Times exists on government advertising which is why Makhanya got a real fright when Essop Pahad threatened to pull advertising last year. Many advertisers pulled out when The Sunday Times decided to alienate its LSM 10 readers. So we must expect them to sink to the level of any government sponsored newspaper (think Zimbabwe) and not be at all surprised that the “four eunuchs” refuse to debate like real journalists. Quite simply they have sold out. They have too much to lose.

Just in case I'm wrong though I am available to debate this point live on air with any of them. I won't hold my breath waiting for the call.

0 Opinion(s):