Thoughts on South African and international politics and culture

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The media gets it right? Or wrong?
More fun and games today from our journalists regarding the SA National Editor's Forum debate on the media coverage of the Zuma trial. News24 carries a headline story entitled "Zuma: Media doing a good job", whilst IOL carries a headline covering the same event entitled "Zuma coverage has been in contempt of court". No naturally it's a debate, so each newspaper has selected a different side of the debate to cover. There are some anomalies, as News24 quotes Professor Robin Palmer as saying "I think the media is being unduly harsh on itself... it has actually done very well" whilst IOL quotes him as on begrudgingly stating that the media has done "a fairly good" job.

Personally, I think the media has done a good job. I think it is only correct that when a person in line for the presidency has various allegations that bear some substance made against him, the media should be free to test their merit and place those allegations in the public domain. If there was no truth to the allegations (talking more of the corruption charges here) then there would be nothing for the media to write about for any extended length of time. There have naturally been times where there have been some poor reporting, but this is the exception rather than the rule. Zuma supporters see the press as a cabal working together to discredit Zuma, which to my mind is nonsense.

Media plays a huge role in a democracy, and its independence should never be compromised. Freedom of speech and a free media are bedrocks of a successful democracy, and they should never have to toe the party line. The Zuma trial is no different.