How the media fooled you on Pistorius

This is a public service announcement. While the dedicated TV channels, up to the millisecond live-tweets, and special broadcast studios set up at some print publications will have you believe that they are there to serve your public interest, they are not.

Because really, without it (and with), there exists a large sum of the population who actually don't care about how an entitled white guy shot his girlfriend on Valentine's Day last year. 

All this coverage is not about an athlete, it's not about violence against women and it's not about the killing itself; it's about something so sick, so despicable and so low that it's a perpetuation of "Oscar degrees" of entitled behaviour itself.

It's about the celebrity of the media. And the opportunism it takes to trample over one another – one tweet or broadcast at a time – to inch closer to an ivory tower carved out of some Kardashian reality TV fantasy so that they can stand an illusionary kind of tall and proclaim: "Brought to you by us".

As social media as reporting tool starts to take on a life of its own, you will see it move from 140 characters of what at least pretends to be objectivity to a wordy bunch of thrown punches between journalists, all vying for the biggest chunk of "churnalism" – one trying to outdo the other, self-righteous opinion after another.

And ethics are buried with the very thing they are trying to report on. No, public, this is not about you. Don't be fooled by bulletins and broadcasts that promise a nation is watching with bated breath. They're not.

And the lot of them who are, especially those privileged enough to tune in to special dedicated channels, are probably the very same ones who also live in security estates with garages filled with silver spoons. And they're being provided for by the journalists who are scavengers for celebrity.

The rest of the nation has other priorities. They are not particularly concerned about how one white athlete is going to spend the rest of his life. I promise you. And no amount of inaccessible subscription TV is going to change that. 

Any kind of entitled behaviour, such as is the case of Pistorius, stems from being told you're perfect your entire life, that the world is yours for the taking and that instant gratification is the ONLY way. Anything other than that is obviously worthy of throwing your toys and stomping your feet. No guilt. No remorse. No introspection. 

Unfortunately, it's this same kind of genetic malfunctioning (for lack of a better term) that exists in the very media organisations who take liberties with their, at times, opportunistic reportage.

Making award winning stages out of makeshift platforms, and entertainment hosts out of journalists, whose celebrity is second only to the one whose picture is being taken on the stand.

No guilt. No remorse. No introspection.

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years. We’ve survived thanks to the support of our readers, we will need you to help us get through this.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.


Two dead in new ANC KwaZulu-Natal killings

A Mtubatuba councillor and a Hammarsdale ANC Youth League leader were shot yesterday near their homes

Inside Facebook’s big bet on Africa

New undersea cables will massively increase bandwidth to the continent

No back to school for teachers just yet

Last week the basic education minister was adamant that teachers will return to school on May 25, but some provinces say not all Covid-19 measures are in place to prevent its spread

Engineering slips out of gear at varsity

Walter Sisulu University wants to reprioritise R178-million that it stands to give back to treasury after failing to spend it

Press Releases

Coexisting with Covid-19: Saving lives and the economy in India

A staggered exit from the lockdown accompanied by stepped-up testing to cover every district is necessary for India right now

What Africa can learn from Cuba in combating the Covid-19 pandemic

Africa should abandon the neoliberal path to be able to deal with Covid-19 and other health system challenges likely to emerge in future

Road to recovery for the tourism sector: The South African perspective

The best-case scenario is that South Africa's tourism sector’s recovery will only begin in earnest towards the end of this year

Covid-19: Eased lockdown and rule of law Webinar

If you are arrested and fined in lockdown, you do get a criminal record if you pay the admission of guilt fine

Covid-19 and Frontline Workers

Who is caring for the healthcare workers? 'Working together is how we are going to get through this. It’s not just a marathon, it’s a relay'.

PPS webinar Part 2: Small business, big risk

The risks that businesses face and how they can be dealt with are something all business owners should be well acquainted with

Call for applications for the position of GCRO executive director

The Gauteng City-Region Observatory is seeking to appoint a high-calibre researcher and manager to be the executive director and to lead it

DriveRisk stays safe with high-tech thermal camera solution

Itec Evolve installed the screening device within a few days to help the driver behaviour company become compliant with health and safety regulations