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Journalists must be professional

by Lesotho Times
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MASERU – Journalists from Lesotho celebrated World Press Freedom Day on May 5 in Leribe district.

It is a day celebrated around the world on May 3 by media practitioners to highlight mostly the challenges and dangers they encounter in their line of duty.

I have always wondered what makes one a journalist.

Does anyone with a pen and paper with some unverified information become a journalist?

Is someone who eavesdrops when people are having a conversation a journalist?

Or someone who is connected to the point of being snobbish?

This profession seems to be where just anyone who knows how to construct a sentence or has strong opinions can get into.

There are no rules or regulations that safeguard this profession.

With the advent of technology where cellphones and the Internet are all over the place, information is just all over and accessible for anyone to lay their hands on.

There is a code of conduct that most people should adhere  with.

The world can be emancipated with the information that is dished out and again can be put under a lot of trouble where brothers can clash over misinformation.

The other question that one should think about is: should there be a criterion that those who are involved should have a certain qualification?

But, honestly, I don’t subscribe to academic qualifications for someone to do the job because a lot of highly educated people have been a disgrace in this profession.

Vusi Mona, the former editor of City Press, resigned after embarrassing himself yet he is highly learned.

Does anyone remember Ranjeni Munusamy who quit her job at the same company for conducting herself unprofessionally?

One reporter with True Love magazine was fired for plagiarism.

Back to my question: what makes one a journalist?

Many journalists have been fired for failing to perform.

The problem is their lacklustre performance in writing as their comprehension of the Queen’s language is a challenge.

Their writing is so horrible that the recipient can’t make head or tail of what the writer would be trying to convey.

It is an undisputed truth that English to me and my folks is a second language since it was brought to Africa by the colonial masters around the 16th century.

The folks are heard everywhere twanging but when it comes to writing it’s an ernomous challenge.

The thing is some of these pseudo-journalists don’t read and there is no way someone can write logically with slick flair without being informed with some well-researched information.

This profession should be respected like other professions such as medicine, law, and architecture.

The good thing is that a journalist practises in the public sphere where their work is always scrutinised.

It can be a daunting task sometimes to write a factually balanced story with the kind of people who are sources – who are uncooperative or are fearful. Of what, I don’t know.

On the May 5, while listening to Metro Talk on Metro FM hosted by Sakina Kamwendo, political analysts squared it off.

Aubrey Matshiqi, Dumisane Hlophe and Prince Mashele debated this phenomenon as who should be called a political analyst. 

Hlophe and Mashele, who studied political science at varsity, said the title shouldn’t be used on anyone who writes two paragraphs on any politician in newspapers or say a few words on radio and TV.

They said people like Shadrack Gutto, a professor of constitutional law at UNISA, and Adam Habib, a lecturer at Wits, shouldn’t be called that.

We all know that there is a scarcity of jobs. Therefore, individuals have mouths to feed.

Other individuals have added value in journalism, but others leave much to be desired.

To add insult to the injury, many have been sued for defamation and closed shop. The Mirror and the Lesotho Southern Stars quickly come to mind.

Some issues need expert clarification. There’s no doubt about that.

Much as I pointed the things above, I don’t have a concrete answer to this.

But again, who should own media houses?

Should it be foreign investors from South Africa, Zimbabwe, America or the indigenous people of Lesotho?

I would also leave this to you because I believe in the idea of a free market although I think it should favour Basotho who have interest in the development of this mountainous country.

Have you ever heard about cheap labour or “Baso-exploitation” in this regard?

It’s only recently that I heard from reliable sources that remunerations are encouraging.

Journalism is a profession like any other respectable profession.

Therefore it should be respected and guarded jealously.

The last point I want to make is: who should tell our stories as Basotho?

I honestly believe that Basotho should tell their stories the way they know and the stories should be reported by Basotho reporters not some foreign journalists.

Foreign journalists are well experienced and I can attest to this as I have seen their work but Basotho should be at the forefront of this work.

I am not trying to perpetuate xenophobia against our African brothers and sisters but look at how the BBC and CNN networks have portrayed Africa and its inhabitants.

Movies like Tarzan quickly come to mind.

I said whatever I wanted to say and I believe this opinion will spark lively debates.

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