The curse of anonymous sources

Remember the bit about sources from the cyber mill?

I mean when the online newsletter published a scoop based on “impeccable” sources revealing what had supposedly happened at a very public rally?

They were at it again, I’m afraid.

This time round I’m sure even the author of the piece about the education minister “allegedly” resigning was gobsmacked by his or her work.

Scrutator last week dutifully gave the cyber crew a lil’ spank for forgetting the lesson she dished out a few months ago about news sourcing.

I would have let lying dogs lie had the lawyer-turned-journalist not tried to defend the indefensible.

With egg dripping from his face, he shamelessly gushed “news sources are news sources”.

“Chances are when people opt to withhold their identity in a story you are onto a good story that will leave cheap competition around you wondering where you got such a good story from,” he reasoned, betraying his naivety for all and sundry to see.

My heart sank.

I could have recovered sooner had he not decided to poop a colossal lie about the treatment of sources in journalism. 

“And single anonymous sources stand in this business,” he opined.

Which business?

Journalism?

This is a cheap lie concocted to mislead readers.

And lies are a very sick and immoral way of trying to prove or make a point.

Any scribe who puts such a statement in a publication is a danger to the public and oneself. 

This business of journalism, which some people want to gate-crash into when their real professions hit a brick wall, is about multi-sourcing.

An allegation must be verified with as many sources as possible.

Any scribe who defends the use of a single source in a story is either very stupid or unfit to be a journalist after all.

Sources can lie or mislead just to push their personal agendas.

Sources have motives. They love and hate.

They have ambitions and dreams.

That is why you need as many of them as possible to corroborate given information.

Anyone who spent even a week in journalism school should know this.

It’s so basic that even a pseudo-journalist who came into the newsroom via the backdoor should know it.

As usual and in a mad rush to defend himself the pompous one missed my argument by a wide margin.

He took my argument, stripped naked and ran away into the streets.

The next time we meet the ageing greenhorn must pay me for getting embarrassed on his behalf.

Who said anything about the story being true or false?

Scrutator simply questioned the sourcing, which is the cornerstone of every story.

 Who is writing those lazy and boring headlines at that Mickey-Mouse newspaper that claims to be the “people’s paper”?

“We were done injustice — Matlama”, screamed the sports story on the back page of its latest issue.

I think it is you ntate who is doing an injustice to readers.

I know the guys at Matlama Football Club speak much better English that the Sothonglish that was quoted in that story.

“A-Division ref goes under . . . as he is mobbed, threatened with a knobkerrie and slapped.”

When sub-editors take liberty with the Queen’s language, and create new expressions that are unknown, they need to inform the owners of the language to get licence to do so.

This business of creating expressions similar to English usually results in miscommunication.

Now, tell me, what happens when “a ref goes under”?

By the way, why are people peddling soft porn under the guise of journalism?

As a people’s paper, I assumed your paper is also read by innocent children who are too young to see the gory pictures that you think make the news.

Last week, you had that unfortunate woman whom you forced to expose her big bum.

At this rate God knows what’s in store for our innocent children.

 Idon’t normally entertain company during my time of pleasure but there are times when some of them just look so miserable that you have no choice but to buy them one.

Anyway, sometimes you just need company.

That is how I found myself in the midst of a group of five students from the National University of Lesotho (NUL) who had visited my favourite watering hole last week.

Three of them were third-year economics students while the other two were studying politics and administration.

Of course I had commiserated with them but I didn’t want them to enjoy the booze for free.

And before any one of them had even been tempted to charm me into his heart, I thought of upping the stakes first.

In any case, it’s been long since I left that school and I needed to catch up.

So I wasn’t going to let them toss down my ale without proof that they were indeed not just making up the numbers at Roma.

“So how do you see Lesotho’s economic prospects?” I innocently asked, seeing that I was in the company of people studying economics.

Horror-struck faces stared at me — and the answer would not come.

“Blah-blah-blah,” said the brave one among my new friends.

“Eh, eh, you see my sister, our economy is eh-eh-eh,” attempted the other one.

I felt like slapping the little rascal.

The others just looked blank.

When I tried to engage them on the subject of inflation the cub economists simply dropped their jaws. I gave up.

Here I was, in the midst of dunderheads from NUL.

I just thought of giving them a second bite of the cherry.

Of course I wanted to confirm my fears that these children were wasting taxpayers’ money.

“Was Lesotho a colony or a protectorate?” I asked the boys from the political department.  

It was like I had delved into the fundamental theorem of calculus with Standard 7 pupils.

I might have been unfortunate to stumble into the worst students at NUL but could they be far from the rest?

Methinks the university has to start now to tighten its selection criteria come next intake.

Otherwise we will soon have half-baked graduates dumped onto the job market soon.

And already I have heard several grumblings by captains of commerce and industry over the caliber of graduates from our varsity.

Some of them can’t even spell their names under pressure, I’m told.

I have an easy option.

How about NUL recalling all its graduates who show signs of incompetence in the industry?

Toyota has done the same with millions of its defective cars.

Why can’t NUL take its defects from the industry?

I know some particularly bad streams that let loose an avalanche of defects into the industry.

If you dare me I can name names.

Watch this space.

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