SCRUTATOR was gobsmacked to discover that the poppycock that always sullies our media has been elevated to an international podium thanks to the local chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA).
After reading the regional advocacy group’s annual publication — So This is Democracy: State of Media Freedom in Southern Africa 2008 — Scrutator was left with no iota of doubt about the severity of the crisis we face in our media.
I can put up with Pollyanna journalism and the habit of analysing issues through rose-tinted glasses.
So too can I stomach the gaffes, recklessness, shoddiness, shallowness, mediocrity and mutilated English foisted upon us through newspaper articles and radio broadcasts.
I do because I understand our limitations when it comes to journalistic skills and experience.
Which is why Scrutator is exasperated that only a handful appreciate the auntie-role she plays by chastising media miscreants as well as shredding the PGA stuff innocent and impressionable children are exposed to in the name of journalism.
But when a panel of bearded men and breasted women flaunts bigotry for the southern Africa region if not the entire world to see, we have to be scared stiff.
Be afraid. Be very, very afraid.
“The increasing involvement of Zimbabwean journalists in Lesotho,” reads part of the instalment under the subtitle “If negative changes, who or what has been the main cause” of the African Media Barometer Lesotho section in the MISA publication.
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“The general feeling was that anti-foreign sentiment in Lesotho is largely as a result of the Chinese trading in small business, and Zimbabweans who seem to be given more opportunities than Basotho.”
You don’t need to hire that mystic who claimed to have captured a bizarrely decorated snake in Ha Mabote last week to see that the drivel was in apparent reference to the Lesotho Times, Public Eye and Informative.
What really shocks me is that the xenophobic mantra is not supported by any shred of evidence whatsoever.
And the donor money-munching organisation did not see anything wrong with the panel’s dangerously myopic conclusion.
I, Scrutator oa Qacha’s Nek, am proud and fortunate to work with expatriate journalists who have taught me in barely a year more than I learnt from some media “pretenders” in a decade.
Yes, that’s why I can “scrutate” you knowing full well that my back is covered in as far as gaffes and silly mistakes are concerned!
And real journalists, I’m dead sure, appreciate learning from others — whether they are from Lesotho, Liechtenstein, Uzbekistan, Myanmar or Haiti.
It’s not like we don’t have brilliant local journalists.
Think of the likes of Kekeletso Matli and Lefu Manyokole as well as the late Mike Pitso and Edgar Motoba.
But the media has not been lucrative enough to keep all the good journalists in the industry and at the same time nurture others.
If we look just across the border, we can see the gulf in class between what we do and the South African media.
Why then should we be hostile to expertise, even if it’s foreign?
Is it not for our own good in the long run?
But I happen to know the people who concocted the xenophobic drivel in the MISA publication.
Among them is a person whose paper has no fixed publishing day — it slithers into the market when the publisher has enough money to print.
Do I need to remind you that this is the same person who is the reporter, editor, publisher, driver and vendor in one?
Now tell me, how many Basotho has he given opportunities if he does all those multiple roles?
Then there was that failed lawyer who stumbled into journalism when the chips were really down.
A man whose debts are overflowing like Phuthiatsana River in summer.
For goodness’ sake, he is still wet behind the ears as far as journalism is concerned.
A geography teacher was there too.
What was he doing on that panel?
What does geomorphology, plate tectonics, nimbostratus and cumulonimbus have to do with journalism?
There was also a man of the cloth who should have devoted more time to praying for his fellow panellists.
That Mohale Lodge meeting needed divine intervention indeed.
Before I forget, did the pastor pay 10 percent of the hefty per diem he got as a tithe to his church?
Then there was a human rights lawyer standing akimbo while his fellow panellists violated a human right with such impunity?
Why should people from other professions be called upon to discuss media issues?
And why an old junior reporter who is barely crawling in the industry should be allowed to speak with authority about journalism boggles the mind.
We must not cheapen journalism that way.
Imagine motor mechanics forming a panel to discuss computer viruses.
My heart bleeds.
The only people who had a right to be there were the MISA-Lesotho director, the good lady who is a mass communications lecturer and my sister from GEMSA.
The whole section on Lesotho in the MISA publication leaves a lot to be desired.
Talk about re-arranging the furniture while the house burns!
By the way, why doesn’t MISA-Lesotho spend a lil’ of the monies doled out to them by donors on redoing their sign board in Happy Villa?
Unless “diversity” is interchangeable with “deversity” as they want us to believe.
I am not finished with the advocacy group yet, so watch this space.
Ha ke s’o qale ka eena!