Anton has touched on a characteristic of SA newsrooms in particular and SA journalism in general. It is not unlike the Mafia's sacred oath of Omertà, the code of silence. LIke any such code, it is only as good as it it holds. If even a tiny crack appears, the entire edifice comes crashing down to the ultimate detriment of all involved.
Having seen the ugly face of SA media Omertà firsthand, and having fought against it for decades, I am not in the least surprised to see the Sunday Times is involved. It is part of the Times Media Group, itself boasting an obscene history of hanging individuals out to dry while insisting it doesn't air its laundry in the public eye - a hilariously puerile confusion of idioms if ever there was one!
But the sad truth is that neither ST nor Times Media, nor even Wa Afrika and Munusamy are isolated. The cancer of Omertà runs through every media group, every newsroom and across the desk of every don, er sorry, every editor in SA. We the public, gullible, naive and trusting as we are, do not deserve this cloak-and-dagger secrecy. And for exposing it for what it is, Anton deserves our thanks.
Let's be honest. Given the merciless grilling we've seen so far, I am now much, much more reluctant to come forward as a witness. I'm not questioning whether Barry Roux is doing his job. He is doing it very well. And I take my hat off to Michelle Burger particularly, because, under that pressure, lesser witness would crack. I am not impressed with the timidity of the judge though - and that opens up all kinds of questions about our tremulous justice system.
As for personal privacy - we have already kissed that luxury goodbye. Except for the wealthiest and best-resourced among us, privacy exists to the same extent as personal safety does in SA.
The distinction is one of media ethics and the spirit of the law, not niceties and fine points of legal interpretation. The spirit underlying Mlambo's judgment - protect the witness's identity, rightly or wrongly - is unambiguous and it is specious to argue any other way. Masipa echoed this. Die Buirger, Beeld & eNCA needlessly teased the tiger and were bitten.
Was public interest served? No way. Were those media shooting for cheap sensationalism in an admittedly competitive fight? Way.
Not that there is much value in this kind of "draadsitter" article that refuses to take a stand one way or the other.
South Africa distinguishes itself in this rudeness and laziness. In my experience in the US and UK specifically, emails are answered promptly, politely and professionally.
Isn't it ridiculous that those organisations claiming to be involved in communication invariably distinguish themselves by how abysmal their communication is? Among the very worst in this country are universities (especially Unisa, a so-called distance education institution), every government department without exception, Vodacom, CellC, Pick 'n Pay, Woolworths ... oh, the blacklist goes on and on and on. And don't forget our media! Shame on you all. May a tired hippopotamus go to sleep on your car keys!
Wading through the miasma of red-tape that makes up the overwhelming bulk of studying through University of SA, supposedly the biggest tertiary study institution on the continent, I have more than an inkling of the differences and relative advantages between online study and formal correspondence or distance education through a place like Unisa.
In terms of the actual content of the study courses, online is far & away the better option. Courses are infinitely more relevant, less cumbersome, less theoretical, more applicable, more durable, of wider global relevance, much more personal and individualised, more malleable and eminently more stimulating. And, of course, much, much cheaper!
The only negative is the failure of South Africa's chiefs-heavy, backward education system - i.e. the NQF twaddle - to adequately and appropriately credit online courses. Which, in turn, makes an eloquent mockery of the misnamed Record of Prior Learning and transferability of skills and knowledge.
So, as with 85% of life in SA today, we are stymied by bureaucracy. And all the concomitant horrible ripple effects. Damn!
In days of yore as a pee-ar-ou I cranked out thousands of "Press Releases" - once I had gotten over myself and the hubris of a former Rand Daily Mail hack. But I was also justifiably proud of my work.
This meant advising my clients when & in what format their PR story constituted newsworthy material. Once that trust was established, we had to ensure it was packaged and presented for what it was. If both of these conditions were properly and professionally met, the media (including your own Mail & Guardian) would invariably use the releases because they were news, well-written and according to the highest editorial standards of quality journalism. This worked even to the point where I could boast of being one of the few journos in the world to have secured a double-page spread in TIME and three separate inserts in National Geographic.
The all-round ugliness slithers in when mutton is dressed up as lamb, duplicity is tolerated or even promoted, defined fences are flattened with chequebooks, the agency (advertising or public relations) misrepresents the client or allows the client to bulldoze them into churnalism or, as in "native advertising", the sponsor believes they some divine right to as it damned well pleases. Whichever way you choose to sanitise it, none of these is in anyone's interest. If that is the true nature of native advertising; the Mr Hyde beneath the civilised demeanour of Dr Jekyll, it deserves our unequivocal opprobrium.
Bravo, Colleen. Bravo and encore. As someone with four decades of creative writing and journalism experience under the belt I gladly admit to a strong bias in favour of content.
What I find singularly disturbing though is that the majority of companies, especially the big ones, take so little pride in their content. With conspicuous exceptions, one can open almost any web page and be confronted with misspellings, bad grammar, Americanisms, inconsistencies and plain gibberish.
What do such web pages say about the company? They scream carelessness, lack of respect, lack of understanding and a cavalier attitude towards to high standards.
The perennial disgrace is that, not only is your advice unassailably correct, Marion, but that it has to repeated year after year after year. And, aside from the obvious blame on the disaster that is modern "Pee-Arr" in South Africa, is the appallingly amateurish levels of churnalism masquerading as professional reporting inflicted upon us by substandard news editors and subs who are MIA. Despair, despondency & depression ... oy vay!
The truth is Rajesh is only another in a very long and very sorry list of excellent professional journalists to have been done in by the Howa/Gupta syndicate. Sadly, 99% of their victims are South Africans. Seems you only get headlines if you're a foreigner - who should never have been hired over the reservoir of exceptional local talent in the first place.
Are our media succumbing to a lot of spin and very little fact? Sure this lad may have been a victim of the bullying of the Gupta cartel, but no worse than scores of others damned fine reporters & editors who have been victimised just as badly - if not worse - by the likes of Nazeem Howa (acting on orders). Take a step back everyone lest ye also get suckered in.
Though I concur with your views, Japie, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. I am studying further through Unisa (though why eludes me because of South African business' inherent and unique bias against employing or contracting people 60 and older). I have been dismally disappointed by three fundamental failures on Unisa's part.
1. Contrary to the university's claims, it has no idea of nor commitment to how online communications should take place. The average reply gap - if you get a reply at all - is three weeks. Snail-mail still out-performs online. 2. Faculty staff across the board are simply neither skilled nor desirous of exploiting online communication. This applies particularly to the departments of Communication Science, Business and English. 3. There are huge discrepancies between info online and hard copy - to the overall detriment of students. We really don't know which to believe.
It is the same pattern as with South African business - tons of lip-service to the online world, but a serious lack of follow-through in practice. They talk a good deal, but seldom walk the path of their own cant.
Well said, Ryland. If years on the Rand Daily Mail during the height of "the unrest", taught us anything, it was the incontrovertible truth that excellent news teams beat excellent individuals every single time. Teams of specialists are what our media, without exception, lack today. That lack is one of the key factors in the slow death of print too.
I'm heartened to see you rank subs so highly. It's such a pity no current editors share your enthusiasm. That is another factor behind the steady decline in media quality - especially print, though online runs a close second. There are dozens of exceptional subs waiting to rescue tawdry, amateurish editions from languishing on the scrapheap of quality journalism. Such a dreadful waste!
I don't know if I can agree with Chang who would treat a profound emotional response as a "commodity" that can be bought like so much dishwashing detergent. In my experience most people approach a relationship willing to trust up front. This applies to brand "loyalty" as part of that relationship. Once that trust is violated and the relationship broken, the impact is equally profound - and negative. The traitor must go to extraordinary lengths to regain trust. Carrying on like business as usual, which is what characterises the serial violators in SA - Vodacom, Telkom, Old Mutual, SAA, kalahari.com, Checkers, Pick 'n Pay, Absa et al - is no way to regain confidence, let alone trust.
I don't know if I can agree with Chang who would treat a profound emotional response as a "commodity" that can be bought liek so much dishwashing detergent. In my experience most people approach a relationship willing to trust up front. This applies to brand "loyalty" as part of that relationship. Once that trust is violated and the relationship broken, the impact is equally profound - and negative. The traitor must go to extraordinary lengths to regain trust. Carrying on like business as usual, which is what characterises the serial violators in SA - Vodacom, Telkom, Old Mutual, SAA, kalahari.com, Checkers, Pick 'n Pay, Absa et al - is no way to regain confidence, let alone trust.