Frankly, the press in South Africa does not exist. What exists is some kind of franchise to mislead the public, falsify evidence, commit fraud and not even an apology in a 2×4 column is going to make things right now.
Take the O’Brian report this year which accused O’Reilly of crony capitalism and worse, the kind of corporate governance that would have made you a five star general in Stalin’s Red Army.
Take the Clear-Channel Independent fiasco in which public relations companies, advertising companies, sponsor reps, big business got into bed with each other, to what, produce the news?
Is it any wonder that heads of major petrochemical companies sit on the O’Reilly board, or that the Cape Times and Cape Argus/Star have turned into nothing more than headline news for Corporate Capital and Global Greed Inc.
If O’Reilly actually paid his bills he might be considered less than a complete tosser, but that is what the company has become, with most of the upper echelons completely invisible from below, while us party hacks have to eke out a living on the crumbs that fall our way from god knows where, local ceo Tony Howard might as well be a voice in heaven.
“You mean you didn’t socialise?” remarked one tosser the gov’ner, who was trying to explain away the fact that INM were being sued for non-payment of wages, and had the audacity to contest the payment despite a letter contradicting the CEO from the late Steve Wrottesly.
Letter from the bloody editor means nothing these days, and nothing less than a handshake will sort out this one.
Headline today: Media24 in hot water. Apparently staff have been misrepresenting circulation figures to advertisers, resulting in a furore over billing. A routine audit of a number of Media24 magazine titles, according to IOL has revealed “certain discrepancies”, the Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC) was reported as saying on Friday.
The ABC had apparently asked Media24 to restate the circulation data of some titles, according to ABC general manager Charles Beiles, raising the question of what else is the African Media Giant hiding? Well, this blog can reveal that there is a lot more going on at Media24. Take the group’s attempts to squash my own case of discrimination (in which I have complained about racism and antiSemitism after being fired for writing a piece about a black jazz musician for a community newspaper published “in a coloured target market” nogal), or the failure to report the pathetic gagging and “urgent interdict” brought against my person, for supposedly publishing “false or misleading statements” of the kind the group is now having to restate.
Can one really believe the kind of brainwashing going on nowadays? Especially when corporate media start looking a lot like just another sports and entertainment utility and less like the daily press. Well, you heard it from me, so for what its worth, check out Zoopy, an interesting new video utility that allows one to upload the truth without fear of censorship, and keep on blogging.
That’s all for now, I’m off for a surf.
THE Alternative Media Forum (Altmedia-F) is contemplating a series of protests to mark the anniversary of the controversial expunging of an article about a well-known Mocambican immigrant guitarist and the suppression of comments made by a local jazz musician, from community press in Cape Town . The protests will form part of Altmedia-F’s, Media Apartheid Campaign against racism and racist bias in the media.
The censorship of double Sama winner, Jimi Dludlu, and the suppression of Cape jazz great, Robbie Jansen from titles owned by Media24, is controversial to say the least, since it involves complaints of racial profiling, anti-Semitism and xenophobia by jazz journalist and Altmedia-F convener, David Robert Lewis.
This comes as an unfair discrimination case lodged before the Labour Court by Lewis, who wrote the article and was subsequently fired for objecting to editorial policy, racial profiling and anti-Semitism, amongst other things, is coming up for review.
‘This case is about discrimination across the board anti-Semitism, racism and even xenophobia,’ says Lewis who was gagged by Media24 last year over this precise issue and has had to fight a battle simply to have his own voice heard. Unfortunately, due to negative coverage of the case by corporate media, which included unflattering and anti-Semitic remarks made by an Independent journalist, the case has dragged-on, and looks set to go into its second year.
An earlier application to the Human Rights Commission, was simply referred to the Labour Court, without any attempt at an investigation, calling into question the seriousness of those in positions of authority in dealing with racism and discrimination, as well as the ability of the commission to cope with case-load, and the motives of the powers that be, which include those who would simply divide-and-rule in the Cape.
‘Racism and discrimination is racism and discrimination,’ says Lewis ‘ the question whether it be black, white or brown or from Africa, Europe or Asia , is beside the point. The sooner we learn to live in a non-racial world without borders, the better is will be for everybody including those of us who are still considered to be aliens, by those in positions of power, despite a 300 year presence on the sub-continent.’
Lewis, like Dludlu, has an immigrant past, and his Jewish, Russian, Afrikaner, Dutch, French, Scottish and English heritage is set to make waves at the Labour Court, as the matter is adjudicated in the face of anti-Semitic, racist and xenophobic attacks by the respondents Media24, and very little support from Independent Media.
If you would like to be a part of this campaign, please call: +27+82 425-1454
CAPE TOWN: The Independent Group has refused a request for information relating to its liability as a corporate entity and ongoing participation as a media company in civil litigation. The request filed on behalf of the Alternative Media Forum (AMF) — an ad hoc grouping of media activists and civil society organisations — was submitted to Independent’s Chief Executive Officer, Tony Howard, but access to the information was refused.
In a legal brief, Independent News & Media (INM) has supplied a number of reasons why it believes it should not grant access to the information requested and why it believes the information is protected from public disclosure. None of the reasons supplied address the key issues raised by the AMF relating to the group’s responsibility as a media organisation to keep the public informed.
According to INM’s lawyers, “the right to be informed is not a right”, and consequently one may draw the conclusion that the group is neither serious about press freedom, nor bound by the Press Code of Professional Practice as it relates to corporate affairs. According to a copy of the Press Code of Professional Practice supplied by the Press Ombudsman, to which Independent is a signatory, “the basic principle to be upheld is that the freedom of the press is indivisible from and subject to the same rights and duties as that of the individual and rests on the public¢s fundamental right to be informed and freely to receive and to disseminate opinions.”
The AMF intends appealing against INMs decision, before bringing an action before a court of law, that could force full public disclosure. The response by the Independent Group, calls into question the sincerity of its own executives in furthering the interests of the media as a whole. The contradiction between the way the group views its business and the demand for accountability and press freedom should also be noted. The interests of media bosses, like so many claims of this nature, are being seen as paramount to the interests of a free press, in a plutocracy that sees small publishers as a threat to their own survival. Furthermore, INM, via its various corporate holdings, continue to operate as if it has sole proprietorship over the daily press in South Africa. The group has now flouted both common sense and decency, by not disclosing this information, and is evidently hiding behind a veil of corporate secrecy.
In effect, the refusal to give details of civil litigation to which it has has been a party, simply because INM is a “private company”, renders litigation in lower courts impotent and without any remedial value. The group recently refused to supply details of a court case which it lost in 2003, while using the information to smear the convener of the Alternative Media Forum, David Robert Lewis.
The Alternative Media Forum is now claiming in papers that will be filed for review, that although INM is a private body that enjoys certain commercial rights, as a press group these rights have been superceded by the public’s “right to know”, furthermore, media interests gained via the constitutional guarantees on free speech, transparency, openness and access to information should be open to public scrutiny. It is the function of a public role which has added emphasis to these rights, and the public has a right to be informed of matters relating to freedom of the press.
There will be a meeting to discuss this response and other events surrounding press freedom and the media at a future date and venue to be announced.
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ALTERNATIVE MEDIA FORUM
PO BOX 4398, CAPE TOWN 8000 RSA
JUDGING from reactions to my last posting, its a big crime in this country to question statistics of any kind. Gosh, what happens if those numbers are wrong? Some empiricists could lose their jobs while we all get into a flap about fowls dying of influenza, or mother hens keeling over from the sniffles. Imagine, if we’re wrong, your budgerigar could die.
Aside from not being much of a bird lover (Okay, okay, I do like pelicans and flamingos) I would rather be a dead duck than be forced to believe some bird-brained bullshit I don’t believe in, which is why I am willing to fight to the last penguin standing for my freedom to speak. Call me a common tit but as far as I’m concerned, Independent Group are a bunch of parrots, repeating whatever they find on the wires and unwilling to check the facts.
After being placed under discursive sanctions for questioning AIDS statistics, I was finally banned for my post-911 views on US imperialism and the war on terror. Nobody believes in the War against Terror anymore, but there are sure as hell a lot of people who believe in the Bird Flu Pandemic (50 deaths and counting).
Did I forget to mention AIDS? Used to be a deadly disease until it got downgraded by the Centre for Disease Control after a scientific breakthrough in 1996. Knocked you off your perch, didn’t I?
PS: Aren’t we all terrified about the thought of cows dying from HIV? Did anybody bother to ask them how they feel, or was the last MAD COW EPIDEMIC just another one of those newsroom decisions, one makes on the spur of the moment, and with profits in mind?
PPS: Any guess as to how much is going to be spent on keeping the official death toll from BIRD FLU secret? How much is this story worth to the media in terms of bullshit and spin-doctoring? Public interest organisations that stand to make millions from scare stories about the 1918 flu disaster in a world before antibiotics and vaccines…and the hysteria continues.