The media dilemma that is Malema
As a journalist you learn to develop a thick skin pretty early on in your career. Over the years I've been blamed (with a finger pointing firmly in my face) for everything from Princess Diana's death to maligning Michael Jackson and now of course giving Malema too much exposure*.
I can't deny that he's received enormous exposure - so much so that he received the National Press Club's 'Newsmaker of the Year' award a few months ago. This isn't something we vote for, but literally is based on who gets the most media coverage that year. Ironically he shared the award with our public protector, Thuli Madonsela, who had received equal coverage for very different reasons...
After initially turning down the Press Club's invitation to attend the awards dinner, he decided to arrive and use the opportunity of his acceptance speech to tell us lowly media that we mustn't take it personally when he maligns and swears at us - he's only doing his job...
Believe it or not, his speech was met with significant applause from this most critical of crowds - a mix of the country's elite electronic and print media. Although, as a colleague seated next to me at the time pointed out, 'How can someone talk such rubbish and make such good sense at the same time?'
Master of the microphone
No-one was applauding louder than the banqueting staff gathered in the corner of the hall - he had them in the palm of his hand. This sums Julius up. He is a master of the microphone and can have almost any crowd eating out of his hand in minutes. You may not like what he has to say but for some strange reason he has the ability to make people listen.
The complaint currently being laid on media is, why do we give him airplay, space in the newspapers and online? Front page coverage in fact. It's simple economics - the name Malema sells. People, even though they say they're sick of him, want to know what he's doing next.
Yes, he's dangerous and I for one would certainly like to see him muzzled. The rhetoric he's currently dishing out is nothing short of criminal - treasonous in fact.
Media doing their job
The fact remains however that if, as a journalist, you weren't reporting on it, then you wouldn't be doing your job, which is letting the public hear the stories and make up their own minds.
So until he does get silenced in some way, you will continue to read and hear about his every move - he makes news and that's what people pay for...
*I've never reported on Princess Diana, Michael Jackson or Julius...
Posted on 13 Sep 2012 11:37