Ayanda Mdluli is Independent Media’s senior investigative reporter. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency (ANA)
Ayanda Mdluli is Independent Media’s senior investigative reporter. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency (ANA)

Media entities should be used to inform the masses

By AYANDA MDLULI Time of article published Oct 23, 2019

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Observing eNCA journalist Karima Brown and her latest one-sided antics masquerading as journalism against the Sekunjalo Group on her show on Sunday, one cannot help but think that perhaps she has now become the embodiment of unethical journalistic practices which appear to be well co-ordinated to advance a certain narrative or agenda for their political handlers.

Here is a hard cold fact that many will not want to accept: if you are a journalist in South Africa and you know that you have been a defender and mouthpiece of Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan, then you have no business adopting the moral high ground on journalism ethics.

Equally, if you have been defending the shoddy work of Gordhan and his ilk while they continue to run Eskom - SA’s most important energy asset - into the ground, you have no business lecturing any journalist about media freedom and reporting on the status of the economy in the New Dawn.

Journalism SA is grappling with politicians masquerading as journalists. All this, while living in an era of fake news. The term fake news is usually referred to as the manipulation of content, often sprinkled with a bit of facts, some lies and is most prevalent on social media.

All you need do is look at the Stratcom programme of action, which is well co-ordinated and is employed by the apartheid security apparatus to control what people think.

Most importantly, the same strategic communications complex uses willing participants in the media as a weapon to tarnish the images of other individuals in power who do not subscribe to their world view, or other people who do not see eye to eye with a certain political dispensation’s prevailing disposition at the time.

Also, it is still unclear as to how many security policemen and intelligence operatives remain in media organisations 25 years after democracy.

Those who were in the employ of Stratcom served in intelligence services and they have been increasingly getting exposed in white-owned media entities. There are allegations, available in the public domain, which contend that some of these intelligence operatives have gone on to dominate the online investigative journalism space.

Therefore, we should not be surprised when handlers pat them on the back at press conferences as seen recently at the Eskom briefing when Jabu Mabuza, the chairman of Eskom, told attendees that the Daily Maverick prefers for them to hold briefings on Thursdays instead of Fridays.

The EFF has since written a letter asking Eskom to explain its relationship with the Daily Maverick. In reality, what these pats on the back tell us is that some of these institutions and their in-house narrative fixers are there to defend the establishment. They are not there to speak truth to power which is fundamental to journalism.

It has also come to light that Jonny Copelyn, one the owners of eNCA, where Brown is employed, is controlled by an individual who donated to the CR17 campaign funds, a story which was broken by Independent Media. It therefore serves their best interests to punt a narrative that paints anything associated with the newspaper publishing grouping in a negative light.

Organisations such as eNCA are effectively indistinguishable from the establishment and they are there to serve and articulate the interests of a select few.

Their narrative is dominated by a tiny market that consists of Afrikaner and English capital interests. As a media entity they are not the voice of and do not serve the interests of the masses.

As media houses and journalists we have a duty to educate and inform the masses.

SA is full of journalists who like to throw stones while living in glass houses, then, when they get their comeuppance, they are the first to cry victim.

In fact, these individuals who have positioned themselves as custodians of media freedom and freedom of speech are highly intolerant of other people’s views or ideological dispositions.

They are anti-black and have conspired in newsrooms to sack those they disagree with, plunging others and their families into the depths of poverty and economic despair.

Their deafening silence on the destruction of our SOEs by Gordhan speaks volumes.

* Mdluli is Independent Media’s senior investigative reporter.

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