0553 Professor Anton Harber speaks at the Human Rights Commission conference to discuss the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) as well as freedom of expression and the public interest following the Sunday Times publication of details of Health Minister Manto Tshabalala Msimang's medical records. The conference was held at the Human Rights Commission office in Parktown, Johannesburg. 231007 - Picture: Jennifer Bruce
0553 Professor Anton Harber speaks at the Human Rights Commission conference to discuss the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) as well as freedom of expression and the public interest following the Sunday Times publication of details of Health Minister Manto Tshabalala Msimang's medical records. The conference was held at the Human Rights Commission office in Parktown, Johannesburg. 231007 - Picture: Jennifer Bruce

Twitter spat over Wits prof’s credentials

By Andrew Robertson Time of article published Dec 2, 2015

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Durban - A nasty Twitter spat on Wednesday night saw University of Witwatersrand’s Head of Department, Anton Harber, being questioned on whether he has the credentials to be titled a professor.

The spat seems to have started when Maswele Ralenbona tweeted Sunday Times journalist Piet Rampedi and Anton Harber. Ralenbona asked the pair why he missed the launch of a new organisation Forum of Journalists For Transformation over the weekend.

Rampedi goes on to say: “Their public face is Anton Harber, who is introduced as the Wits journalism “professor”, even though he has no known PHD or even Masters Degree. He is probably the only professor in the world who supervises people who are three-times more qualified than him.

“The same person who, today, is being celebrated as an anti-apartheid stalwart when he presided over a lily-white newsroom at the Rand Daily Mail when black reporters were discriminated against and subjected to the authority of their junior white colleagues.”

Harber replied to the damning tweet saying: “Facts are wrong @pietramped #FJT. I was a junior reporter at the Rand Daily mail. I did no presiding”.

The Wits HOD then added: “How sad that #FJT should launch with @pietrampedispeech riddled with factual errors and wild accusations. Not inspiring.”

The Sunday Times political and investigative journalist then shot back asking the HOD: “What errors? You either have a PDH & Masters Degree or not. I am saying you have none. Or do you have then and where?

Rampedi then asked Harber to share his certificates pictures or those of his graduation. Harber replied, “I don’t. Have never claimed them. I am adjunct prof. That is the one and only fact you got half-right”.

The heated debate garnered massive attention on the social media site:

@Sentetse: Banna! Wits Professor of Journalsim @AntonHarber only has a BA degree? White Privilege must be nice!

@brodiegal: What does an adjunct professor of journalism accually do? Well, teach student to be fauctual journalist for one.

@NoTolls: Nailing Anton shows how clueless an inexperienced you are? Start a newspaper with a shoestring budget, with repressive security regime and then talk.

@julianrademayer: Hopefully @pietrampedi did a better fact-checking the SARS ‘rogue unit”story than he did in his rant attacking @antonharber.

IOL received the following comment from Harber: “This is a non-issue. I have never claimed to have a PhD. I am an adjunct professor on the basis of 35 years of journalism experience. The position of adjunct professor is created to bring into the university people with professional experience and it is common in journalism and business schools around the world. For example, the Dean of Columbia U Journalism School, perhaps the most prestigious journalism school in the world, does not have a PhD.”

Harber is the Caxton Professor of Journalism and Media Studies at the University of Witwatersrand. He graduated from Wits University, and began his career as a cadet journalist on The Springs Advertiser. He has extensive experience in the media and journalism field.

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