Friday, 11 December 2009

Caster to Moria: ‘in the public or media interest?'

There are things that one must agree, but to a certain extent, that they are in the public interest. This, for example, includes reports of corrupt government and business officials or those who are under suspicion of such corrupt activities.

Be that as it may, there are still certain reports by the media that are not actually in and or serving 'the public interest(s)', at least not in my interest as a member of the public.

The report by Times LIVE Online that the athlete Caster Semenya will be joining her family during the festive seasons at Moria, Limpopo, is one such horrible stoty ‘not [serving] the public, but the media interest’.

Times LIVE Online, regrettably, reports that Semenya, since she was a child, her parents and her four siblings will join thousands of other Zion Christian Church pilgrims at the church headquarters in Moria, Limpopo, to celebrate the [this year’s Christmas] holiday.

Jacob Semenya [her father], according to the report, said Caster would travel home with the family to Ga-Masehlong village where she will spend “quality time” with the rest of her family.

The ‘quality time’ can be understood for Caster surely, like any other person studying or working about 1000 kilometers away from his home town or village – would want to spend such a time, especially the Christmas holidays with his or her family. Further, it too can be understood that some of her family members, including her sibling Mmaputhi Semenya “missed her sibling [Caster]” who studies at Pretoria.

However, one cannot see what it is that is in the public interest in this report that, at the end of the day, saw the story 'of Caster going to Moria' being reported in any publication be it print and or online at all.

Here, one would suspect a media-biased agenda in that – the story does not in any way come close to serving or reporting what is ‘in the public interest’, but instead, seems to serve what is in the ‘media interest’.

This is mainly because the story is of no importance to the general public or ‘public interest’ for there are many people, including celebrities like Oleseng, a musician and a member of the church, who is very much likely to join ‘thousands of other Zion Christian Church pilgrims at the church headquarters in Moria’ but he is not being reported on.

Or could it be that he was not even asked if he will or not join ‘thousand of other Zion Christian Church pilgrims’ and report the story either online or on print.


Akanyang Merementsi said...

This is a response to the articles as was published here at

The point I am trying to raise which many of you who have already responded failed to grasp is that one (read myself) saw no importance in the story being run, let alone printed in any publication.

Further, as I have mentioned in this letter/article is that there are a whole lot of people who could have been approached – people who happen to be members of the same church that caster goes to/attend, and that her family too attends – for the story and not caster but were not. Oleseng is just one person that comes to mind.

What was the point which you have failed to understand to date at the time of writing and responding to the article in running with the story in the first place? What was behind its running? Who was expected to benefit from it? Would you have paid for it?

These and many others are just some of the questions that the article, one personally feels, had raised and you failed to understand. And strangely, these the same questions which some of the comments have failed to address too. And is it this failure that resulted in my questioning the media and its way of reporting.

The ‘questioning the media and its way of reporting’ is by no means an effort/attempt to dictate how editors should do their job which I am very sure and confident that they know how, while at time one just wonders what had happened when what was least expected came to the front. Because we are only human beings (and can make misstates once in while)? Yes, I know that.

As mentioned in one of my Facebook status, I am ‘for 'Press Freedom with…Responsibility… and not just for the FUN/LOVE of it’.

Akanyang Merementsi said...

The response continues to an articles at continues:

And Pay for more of this news?

This then brings one to what Rupert Murdoch has been preaching recently.

In his speech, according to Wall Street Journal last week (8 December 2009) adapted from his remarks at Federal Trade Commission's workshop on journalism and the Internet, Murdoch said: “from the beginning, newspapers have prospered for one reason: the trust that comes from representing their readers' interests and giving them the news that's important to them. That means covering the communities where they live, exposing government or business corruption, and standing up to the rich and powerful.”

Accordingly, what the newspaper referred to on this article, it seems, does not represent readers (myself included) “readers’ interests and giving them the news that’s important to them”.

Although the story may have covered ‘communities where [we] live’ as Murdoch strongly ascertained, it however did that with limited knowledge for this is may not necessarily be in the interests of the ‘readers’. And this will be – if Murdoch succeeds – the soapies, while others stories, we will have to pay for in the near future?

And if these soapies continue chances of ‘the bold… companies’ to start charging for them are not likely as they will not have found ‘new and better ways to meet the needs of their [potential] viewers, listeners, and readers’.

Further, with the above statement in mind, it is therefore too no likely that ‘companies [will not] give people the news they want’ as advised Murdoch, according to WSJ at the time. And in the end, the perception that one seems hold on this specific article – of a media-biased agenda that does not in any way come close to serving or reporting what is ‘in the public interest’, but instead, seems to serve what is in the ‘media interest’ – and that same perception which Murdoch has warned publications against when he said “this tells [him] the editors are producing news for themselves—instead of news that is relevant to their customers’ – will be reinforced.

And as a result, it will be difficult for any publication/media house, print and or online, for that matter to start charging for “quality content” which Murdoch said was certainly and probably will “not [be] free”. In the future, good journalism will depend on the ability of a news organization to attract customers by providing news and information they are willing to pay for which in this specific story and many others, is not the case at all.