The man who stiffed journalists of payments and who controlled the Independent Group with an iron fist is no longer a media baron. The much-reduced Irish-owned Independent Group has been sent packing back to Ireland, thanks to a deal which saw the group’s South African assets bought out by local investors. This is not surprising since this writer warned about the O’Reilly ponzi scheme and impending bankruptcy with its unintended consequences for journalism some time ago.
WHAT fun to find that Cape Times columnist Tony Weaver is now referring to me as a “blogger and raver“. In a 11 February riposte tackling the hate speech allegations made by Nosey Pieterse and the striking farmworkers, Weaver admits to having completed his military service under the apartheid regime, before ‘bravely exposing the infamous police minister’s Adrian Vlok and Louis le Grange’.
He then tries to wriggle his way out of a sticky problem involving the wrong charactersation of local share croppers as a”rural lumpen proletariat” — If a farmworker is not a member of the proletariat then who is?
In Weaver’s cynical and salaried view, farmworkers (and ravers) are essentially a bunch of working class yobs if they happen to exercise their constitutional right to strike or dance on the grass.
Does Weaver seriously think that us ravers are a class on our own, or perhaps, a class fraction of the new “lumpen proletariat” that includes dissident unionists and fruit and vegetable pickers? Calling agricultural workers “lumpen” merely because much of the farmwork is seasonal is a real disgrace. It is a means of belittling an important and valuable pursuit in the countryside, so that city slickers like Weaver get to have cheap food all year round.
People dance outdoors and eat organic vegetables not because they can’t afford to party indoors and drink expensive cocktails, they do this rather because there is an alternative cultural milieu to the capitalist mindset — a cross-over fusion of African tribal culture and Western dance music — something which the South African media should be celebrating.
Having just turned 45, hence the lateness of this response, I must say being called a raver at my age is a real compliment. It also exposes the Mink and Manure focused Cape Times and its anachronistic attitude towards youth culture, since ravers (and the word rave) has long since passed into cultural folklore along with punks, beatniks and rockers.
All perfectly respectable nowadays to party outdoors, to the point where I can already see the Mastercard advert. “Going to a decent trance party R500. Waking up to discover you’re a raver, priceless.”
News of the sale of Independent News South Africa by its bankrupt Irish parent company will therefore come as no surprise. (The sale, which still needs to be authorised by shareholders was concluded over the weekend.)
Weaver will thus have a hard time explaining his priggish stance to the new owners, as too an uneven career as a journalist and war correspondent during South Africa’s period of race segregation.
Christi van der Westhuizen is an award-winning political journalist and the author of White Power & the Rise and Fall of the National Party (2007). She has worked at Vrye Weekblad, Beeld and ThisDay and has regular columns in The Star, Cape Times, The Mercury and Pretoria News. She has been interviewed for political comment on the BBC, Radio New Zealand, Radio Adelaide (Australia), SAfm, SABC3, e-tv and M-Net. In 2005, she edited the book Gender Instruments in Africa: Critical Perspectives, Future Strategies while working as senior researcher in International Relations. She worked as Inter Press Service’s trade editor for Africa and Europe between 2007-2011. She holds an MPhil in political economy and South African politics
In a piece published by Amandla she says: “I recently resigned as monthly columnist at Media24’s daily newspapers after one of my columns was censored. The offence that led to the censorship? As a proponent of the position that the media’s allergic reaction to self-criticism is to its own detriment, I had dared to do exactly that: employ critical examination of the media.”
In the piece, she attacks newsroom juniorisation, the practice of purging qualified staff and hiring inexperienced juniors in order to prevent the formation of professional echelons that could be in a position to criticise the manner in which the company conducts its business. Media24 has been taken to task by Noseweek Magazine for producing cram-collage journalists via Damelin College and City Varsity, both of which are owned by the company, and which allow uncritical hacks to bypass University Journalism departments.
“The effect of the continuous personnel cutbacks in newsrooms is obviously that there are not enough people to do the work properly, which leads to errors.” says van der Westerhuizen.
|19-20 January 2012||Cape Town||Salt River Community House, 41 Salt River Road, Salt River.
|21 January 2012||Port Elizabeth||Nelson Mandela Metropolitan, Goven Mbeki Avenue, Market Square|
|23-24 January 2012||Durban||City Hall, Durban, 239 Dr Prixley Ka Seme Street|
|26 January 2012||Bloemfontein||Braamfisher Building
Floreat Hall, Makraaf & Nelson Mandela Drive
|30-31 January 2012||Johannesburg||Braamfontein Recreation Centre, Corner Harrison & Juta street|
The day started with a march by the Right2Know Campaign to Parliament. A veritable street festival of information activists, data progressives, ordinary working people. Neil Goodwin was there doing his Charlie Chaplin impersonation along with a speech bubble demanding access to information. The AIDC crew practically everywhere.
Ronnie Kasrils appears to have joined the campaign and gives an emotional speech filled with revolutionary zeal. “We must stop the despots and dictators” he says as he calls for the ruling party to withdraw the Information Bill.
I have to leave, since I am a delegate at the Pan African Information Access Conference on the foreshore. Held in Cape Town’s swanky CTICC, I quietly register alongside other delegates arriving from overseas and up north and am handed a huge bag of loot, filled with information material and an XXL t-shirt that will probably fit Jacob Zuma as well as his three wives.
Having carefully avoided the opening address by various corporate chiefs including Media24′s Koos Bekker, I dig into a lunch sponsored by our national telco — Telkom. It tastes like Telkom, if Telkom had a taste at all, it would be like sampling my grandmother’s collection of Panorama Magazine filled with Blue Train Apartheid and Government luncheon food of the kind dished up in our own Parliament kitchen.
After some misgivings about being a sponsored guest, I join a session on technology convergence. The session begins with Nnenna Nwakanma of FOSSFA boldly appealing to the sisterhood for greater representation. Outnumbered by men in expensive suits, she does a great job of lightening up the conversation.