Thursday, 19 February 2009

SA Media: Inaccuracy & Sensationalism?

During the SA’s ruling party African National Congress conference last year, a resolution was taken to establish a Media Tribunal. The purpose of the tribunal, many argued, would be ANC’s platform in trying to regulate all media reporting or censorship.

They, media experts continued, would restrict the media in certain if not many, stories or lies to report on and if they are of The Public Interest or not.

This includes, which stories needs to be reported, and therefore, have to be approved by the tribunal.

The tribunal, one may argue, did not make sense then and it still doesn’t know. This is because – it seems as an attempt to protect many of the high political persons/leaders.

Media Tribunal came as a result of intense reporting on many of the ANC’s political leaders and many of its members who have been involved in criminal activities or are involved in such incriminating activities, e.g. fraud.

However, though it cannot be justified – there are instances of recent, that have made headlines in many newspapers across the country, about SA president Kgalema Motlanthe’s affair with a women who claimed to be carrying the president’s child.

Newspapers across the country, including Sunday World which broke out the lies about Motlanthe’s affairs was following by other reports on Sunday Times, The Star and Cape Argus.

Motlanthe’s private or not live reporting caused chaos on whether the president’s right to privacy as envisaged in the Constitution of the Land was violated by these reports or not.

The president’s live is of importance and high significance to us as citizens. Therefore, anything done on his part deemed [im] moral: e.g. having an affair; accused or rape; fraud; friendship with criminals or people associated with criminal activities; saying things the society regard as immoral, e.g. “kill for Akanyang or even die for him” – will of great concern to the us too.

Media reports on Motlanthe – print and Online
Below is just a few of the print and Online media that ran with Motlanthe’s “secret sex life” and one can imagine the effect it had on his life as an individual and as a politician, especially as a president of a developing country such as South Africa:

 “Media versus Motlanthe’s Private Life
 Business Day “Motlanthe declines to take legal action on ‘false’ reports”
 The Times Online (UK) “South Africa glimpses ANC elite’s messy love lives”
 The Times (SA) “Motlanthe: “I won’t sue her”
 The Voice of the Cape
 Pretoria News “Motlanthe’s “affairs” a secret”
 International Herald Tribune “South African leader's sex life stirs salacious gossip and privacy debate”
 Mail & Guardian Online
 Turkish Weekly
 The Star
 African National Congress and
 Constitutionally Speaking by Pierre de Vos and many more.

Pierre de Vos, a Constitutional Law professor notes in his blog Constitutionally Speaking that:

“I still think in this case the reports should not have been published because the link with the exercise of our right to vote is so tenuous and the sleazyness of the reporting so problematic that it probably does not enhance the working of our democracy. Let the President be. Unless he steals our money of course or takes a bribe from a friend or an arms company. Then, please tell us all about it”. reported that: “He [Motlanthe has] “called for an investigation [into his sex reports by newspapers, media to be exact] by the Press Ombudsman and the SA National Editors Forum”.

After these scandalous reports on Motlanthe’s sex life, the same woman confessed – one can never be sure this time around whether it the truth or just close to it – that she was lying and said that: “I TOLD YOU WHAT YOU WANTED TO HEAR”.

She’s damn right!

This is what the newspapers wanted and they got it, and now they are in big trouble.

It cannot be confirmed at this stage as to who newspapers from the date on which the women denied or confessed to her lies – all media; print and Online will go about reporting accurately and proper and well done and research Investigative Journalism.

Lessons to be learned

Get your facts right and correctly quoted, source news and whatever from stable and reliable sources, and not just from anyone because it is going to be a Headline of the Week, Month or even Year!,

Proper and well done Investigative Journalism will go a long way in alleviating “inaccuracies from unreliable source”.

How much did newspapers pay for the information as they are reported to be paying for this kind of information?

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