Media Freedom Day

Freedom loving South Africans commemorated Media Freedom Day today, in South Africa. Today marks that fateful day in 1977 when the former Apartheid government shut down newspapers, banned civic organizations and arrested journalists and activists; the same actions being pig-headedly contemplated by the so-called liberation government in power, today.

While it seems that this same government are about to backtrack on the implementation of that disgraceful piece of legislation known as the Media Appeals Tribunal (MAT) in its current form, there is no absolute guarantee of that. Freedom loving South Africans need to remain ever vigilant and in united opposition to it ever seeing the light of day.

While MAT may indeed wind up as still-born, the implementation of that other sinister piece of legislation known as the Protection of Information Bill (POI) which continues to threaten our basic freedoms, is still very much on the cards. The same opposition we have shown towards MAT, needs to be gathered up again twice and thrice-fold, to defeat those who dare meddle with our freedoms.

We must not allow ourselves to be mislead by government propagandists such as Aziz Pahad, whose call for “a greater variety of voices… to be heard more often in the South African media…,” is nothing short of a smokescreen to give credibility to that new pro-government rag that is about to be published by the Gupta’s, The New Age. Sure we need a greater variety of voices in the media, but not those that toe the ruling party line, or suck up to the politicians, in anticipation of favors.

And perhaps as a sign that Media Freedom Day did prick some consciences, five senior editors of the propaganda rag, The New Age, resigned this afternoon, just  hours ahead of its launch tomorrow. Hopefully these journalists will now join a truly free newspaper publisher.

Let’s all stand firm against any legislation that threatens media freedom.

The New Age of news reporting: news as the government says it should be

Yesterday a special first-edition copy of the soon to be published, new South African national newspaper, The New Age (TNA), was pressed into my hands by a colleague at work. I accepted it reluctantly and put it away with the intention of  perusing it later.

Off course, the reason I accepted the copy reluctantly, was because of the early impressions formed about the newspaper after learning that it was going to be printed with a sympathetic leaning towards the government, by the Gupta family (contributors to the 500K Klan, also known as the ANC). However, after reading about the TNA in Chris Roper’s column in the M&G last night, I decided to actually read the newspaper this morning. Even the advertisements; and boy are there a large number of them, mostly about government departments and initiatives. There is even a full-colour double page spread advertising the Champions League finals for that ghastly 20-20 form of the good game.

Chris Roper was right; there’s nothing new here. The biased slant towards the government (and ANC) is quite obvious. The only new thing about the TNA is that you, the taxpayer will mostly be paying for it, through government advertising. It’s obviously not targeted at the intellectually competent; the simple easy to read style and pro-government angle is aimed at a demographic that keeps the ANC in power. Chris’s assessment and conclusion just about sums up this waste of precious paper:

It’s no accident that the New Age‘s acronym is TNA — if the ads are anything to go by, this is going to be the Tits ‘n Ass of political journalism, a landscape where we’re invited to ogle two component parts that, together, don’t make up anything like the full body.

And one is left in no doubt, that should the dastardly Media Appeals Tribunal ever see the light of day, The New Age will be safe from any persecution, simply by design, or even political intervention if necessary.

The New Age of rose-coloured reporting. Feel it, it is here!!!