Zuma's absurd attack

Zuma's absurd attack

2013-09-13 07:27

I WORRY that President Jacob Zuma and Hlaudi Motsoeneng, the chief operating officer  at the public broadcaster, complain unnecessarily when they attack local media for not reporting positive news.

Their charge that the local media is focusing too much on negative news seems far-fetched.

This week Zuma started a biting assault on the South African media, saying its reporting is so negative that it often makes him feel like escaping this country.

Zuma also charged that the media cared less about informing the public and enhancing South Africa’s reputation than just making good profits.

He was speaking to journalism students from the Tshwane University of Technology, who visited parliament as part of an excursion to Cape Town.

"When I go out, people envy South Africans, they wish they were South Africans because they say we are doing so well, we are succeeding… they love it,” Zuma told the students.

"But when I am in South Africa, every morning you feel like you must leave this country because the reporting concentrates on the opposite of the positive."

Motsoeneng, speaking in an interview with Sunday Times’ Chris Barron, urged the paper's reporters to think positively at every morning news conference to get good stories.

He said he was more interested in stories that built the nation than those that destroyed it.

It is likely that positive stories can be highlighted every day in radio news bulletins and newspapers.

But there is precious little evidence suggesting that the South African media does not cover positive stories, as Zuma and his megaphone would like us to believe.

Motsoeneng, in the same interview with Barron, claims that he was a journalist before assuming the position of COO.
He should know better than Zuma, of course, that what could look like a negative story could actually have positive results.

My professor when I was at the journalism school in the Western Cape used to tell us that the objective of running any story was inherently positive.

The only problem, he would say, is how the story would affect those in close proximity to it.

For instance, a story about the mismanagement of funds could cause people who have lost money to kill themselves or feel stressed, when there would have been little chance of this had the story not broken.

When the Fidentia story came out a couple of years back a number of people who had their money invested in the fund manager suffered stress, while others could have died because of this.

Now, whoever broke that story no doubt had good intentions in mind.

They meant to expose Fidentia, so that the mismanagement of money belonging to widows and orphans could stop. Is this not positive? What we can say is that the story had unfortunate consequences, but certainly wasn't negative.

Remember, the story kickstarted an investigation into the Fidentia scandal, followed by a court hearing; the abuse of people’s money subsequently came to a halt.

Zuma himself fired Bheki Cele as national commissioner of the South African Police Service in June 2012, following Cele’s involvement in the awarding of a R1.7bn contract for a police building lease.

When the Sunday Times’ investigations team first broke this story, the main aim was to stop this craziness from continuing when it came to their knowledge.

The story may have been seen as negative by Zuma and his cohorts when it was first published.

But it prompted investigations by Public Protector Thuli Madonsela. The story also incited Zuma to do the right thing and fire the corrupt police official. Would we say the story was negative? No, not at all.

Zuma and Motsoeneng must tell us what exactly they mean when talking about positive reporting.

If Motsoeneng was a well-trained reporter during his time, he would know that about 90% of stories published in our serious newspapers and magazines are written with good intentions. I am not talking about tabloid journalism, of course.

Zuma should stop calling for positive reporting because it is there. He should be honest and tell the country that every time he looks at the news, he realises the mess the country he is leading is in.

Remember, the media is the mirror in which we see ourselves as a country.

 - Fin24

*Mzwandile Jacks is a freelance journalist. Opinions expressed are his own.

  • Khuliso Marvin Ratshinanga - 2013-09-13 07:58

    your article is a piece of crap, it just reitarate what president zuma said. he made a good example on how the media reported only on negatives about the report released on business competitiveness and business confidence, in which the very same media house of SA reported only on issues in which SA performed bad, moreover ignoring areas in which SA performed exceptional. SA needs balanced reporting not sarcastic reporting and favouritism

      Fortes Fortuna Adiuvat - 2013-09-13 08:08

      One of the main functions of the media is keeping the ruling party honest. In a society where there is more balance between ruling party and opposition (like in the US), they are more effective since they can actually swing votes. If you are honest and do not give the media cause to report negatively (Nkandla, taking a shower to avoid HIV, corrupt relationships stemming from the arms deal, etc), you would have nothing to fear. Rather ask: why are they in the media so often? Is it not the right of the public to know that 80% of government departments are completely ineffective? It is not the fact that the media reports it that is the problem. It is what we do with that that will determine our future. If we worked hard on eradicating the bad press by NOT censoring the media, but by FIXING the problems, the stories would turn positive by themselves. Too many of these politicians have their hands in the cookie jar and are far too powerful with no accountability to the people that voted for them. I believe that if we had 2 or 3 political parties separated by 1-2% of the vote (meaning change in power comes easily) you would have a much more honest political landscape and people would be held accountable. Do the supporters of the ANC like the fact that all the ANC politicians are labeled as thieves and crooks? Why not hold them accountable? Let us fix this country.

      Konstabel Koekemoer - 2013-09-13 09:35

      Just have a look at the articles on this site or any other site or newspaper and you will find both positive and negative articles everywhere. And this is the case in any country where you have freedom of speech. Only in dictatorships is the news censored to make the ruling party look good. The thing is that we as readers will often tend to be more likely to read and remember the negative news as good news is often quite mundane.

      Niel Liebenberg - 2013-09-13 09:43

      @Khuliso, you're missing the point. Things in SA are anything but peachy. Just refer to the value of our currency, the sentiment pertaining to strikes, corruption, etc. That being said, there should be one golden thread running through all media publications. That thread is the truth. Regardless of how positive or how negative it is.

  • Chris Botha - 2013-09-13 08:22

    POSITIVE NEWS: Exploiting 'corrupt' ANC officials NEGATIVE NEWS: Not exploiting 'corrupt' ANC officials VERY GOOD NEWS: Exploiting a corrupt president The media is doing what government fail do do, exploit criminals...

      Zulu Makhise - 2013-09-15 13:46

      Stop The Press news!.. Justice served and jailtime handed down.

  • Hannes Piek - 2013-09-13 08:41

    I suppose we could look at this from various angles: • Either leadership in SA are incompetent and airing their incompetence creates embarrassment for SA which we could do without. • Or that in competence is OK, as long as it is not reported on. • Negative news sells. • The right to information has to be changed. Pre-1994 reporting of incompetence was swept under the carpet and consequently public opinion was ill-informed. And we say history repeats itself. So … not reporting will allow this cancer to grow unabated in our society? No, if leadership in SA is incompetent we need to know about it, or is the point to prevent further polarisation? A point could be that positive suggestions are not forthcoming how to rectify this scourge.

  • Richard Roebuck - 2013-09-13 10:03

    Funny, every morning i also feel that Zuma must leave this country. Maybe he should go to the success story that is Zimbabwe?

  • Freddie Miller - 2013-09-13 10:47

    Is Zooma afraid the truth may cost him some votes? Not reporting bad news does not make that event not have occurred.

  • Danny Harris - 2013-09-13 11:34

    Id like to see Zuma attend a press conference where he can field questions from the press and answer them on the spot - the point is he is not capable. I think the press do a great job in SA and to be fair WHEN there is some good news in the greater scale of things I am sure the press will print it

  • Eduard Homes - 2013-09-13 18:02

    Zuma is a tool.

      Toby Clive Goss - 2013-12-16 14:25

      His tool is part of his problem

  • Ike Jakson - 2013-09-14 03:53

    Ole Jake should resign and spend some more time with his forty wives; maybe that will revive the economy.

  • Musa Mbekezeli Molula M-cube - 2013-09-14 22:16

    maybe the is a political defination for "positive" and "negative".....

  • Muzi Cele - 2013-09-15 08:00

    Good article Mzwandile keep it up.Media is doing a very good job for us.If an individual is corrupt he/she should be exposed and no two ways about it.

  • Toby Clive Goss - 2013-12-16 14:23

    Madiba once phoned Zapiro, NOT to ask him to stop his cartoons, but simply to tell him thaty he (Zapiro) was doing his job. Khuliso you are ill.

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