Updated: Sep 15
I have this 'thing' about inaccurate reporting by 'professional' journalists - especially when it comes to what the South African government is and is not doing. Yes, I know: our politicians and bureaucrats have their shortcomings (and BIG-goings-around-comings-around, too, I suspect). But when something positive happens, it would be great if mainstream media reporters got it right.
A recent example was an announcement from the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy on new generation capacity. A media statement was apparently sent on Thursday 10 September to leading media houses - but entirely misreported or under-reported in articles since updated, thank goodness. Unfortunately, the statement was only posted on the department's website the following day. But that's no excuse. It's contents are as clear as day, so why didn't the media hacks read it, do some research and report on it accurately?
In this week's 'From the desk of the President', Cyril Ramaphosa wrote: 'The proliferation of fake news during the pandemic, primarily on social media platforms, has added to the urgency for more news that is accurate, fair and impartial'. Yes, I know: he's criticised left, right and centre for pretty much everything (not necessarily always without justification), but the point needs to be made.
When the news on more new energy generation capacity broke, flabbergasted by the really awful articles I noticed when trawling the world wide web (which I do daily as part of my job), I wrote this for Legalbrief Policy Watch:
When the media statement was eventually posted on the department's website, I followed up with this:
Because reporting on government policy and new legislation is what I'm paid to do, I meticulously research and painstakingly examine the source documents I use. When a media house receives an official statement from any government department, it should ensure that its own hacks do the same. No self-respecting journalist wants to be known as a hack, least of all a good one ...