Naspers and BizNews no dif­fer­ent from Bell Pot­tinger

The Star Early Edition - - OPINION & ANALYSIS -

Dr Iqbal Survé is In­de­pen­dent Me­dia’s ex­ec­u­tive chair­man

IHAVE been read­ing with in­ter­est how Bell Pot­tinger used, not only their own plat­forms, but also those of other me­dia houses in an at­tempt to change South Africa’s nar­ra­tive.

In essence, Bell Pot­tinger was ped­dling fake news on be­half of the much al­leged cor­rupt and money-grab­bing Gupta fam­ily.

When the tide turned against Bell Pot­tinger and when they were un­masked as us­ing fake news, they were rightly ridiculed and con­demned as agents work­ing against the ma­jor­ity of South Africans.

Bell Pot­tinger, con­tracted by the Gupta fam­ily, has been con­demned for try­ing to in­flu­ence the South African nar­ra­tive around fight­ing em­bez­zle­ment, fraud and state and cor­po­rate cap­ture.

They man­u­fac­tured news and pro­moted the no­tion of White Mo­nop­oly Cap­i­tal, Black First Land First and oth­ers.

This fake news was swal­lowed and sent out so eas­ily by our com­peti­tor, Naspers Me­dia24 and their sur­ro­gate, BizNews.

But they also used fake news when the Sekun­jalo-led con­sor­tium was pur­chas­ing In­de­pen­dent Me­dia.

They used their con­sid­er­able re­sources to ma­lign In­de­pen­dent Me­dia, me in my per­sonal ca­pac­ity and as ex­ec­u­tive chair­man both of Sekun­jalo and In­de­pen­dent Me­dia.

Their fake news at­tacks be­came in­creas­ingly vi­cious and spu­ri­ous af­ter the sale of In­de­pen­dent Me­dia was com­pleted.

It be­came clear to me that Naspers Me­dia24 and their sur­ro­gate speak with forked tongues when it comes to the cre­ation of fake news. They at­tacked Bell Pot­tinger for ped­dling fake news yet they are guilty of the same.

Theirs is more in­sid­i­ous… as they are us­ing an apartheid-era style dirty-tricks cam­paign. Us­ing their sur­ro­gate, their un­truths were spread and shared un­til it ap­peared to be the truth.

Our de­trac­tors are the al­ter egos of Bell Pot­tinger. Just as Bell Pot­tinger did, so too have our com­peti­tors used fake news to pur­pose­fully sully In­de­pen­dent Me­dia and my­self.

We spent a long time de­fend­ing our­selves against Naspers Me­dia24 and their sup­posed news web­site, the Lon­don-based BizNews.

Terry Bell, who was a con­tracted colum­nist of In­de­pen­dent Me­dia, now works for Fin24 and City Press.

We have an email writ­ten by Bell con­firm­ing he was con­tracted by Naspers Me­dia24 to write neg­a­tive sto­ries about In­de­pen­dent Me­dia and my­self.

Even when we pre­sented Bell with the truth he re­mained se­lec­tive and twisted facts in his re­port­ing when he de­cided to “fact-check” my CV.

Even of more in­ter­est is that Naspers Me­dia24 and a num­ber of news web­sites share and du­pli­cate their sto­ries. Clearly, there are hid­den agen­das. Th­ese writ­ers are some of those who con­sis­tently use fake news about In­de­pen­dent Me­dia and my­self to dis­credit us.

They clearly have an axe to grind and the rea­sons are clear.

They feared a black-owned com­pany. Their pro­pa­ganda and their poorly em­bed­ded mes­sage was that we were “die swart gevaar”. But we are a me­dia com­pany that presents news ac­cu­rately, with­out bias and gives ev­ery­one a fair voice.

Our news­rooms have be­come di­verse, both in colour and gen­der. We have given peo­ple, over­looked for years, an op­por­tu­nity to ex­cel. It was clear that our com­peti­tors did not like what we were do­ing and so they in­ten­si­fied the at­tacks.

Many swal­lowed what was pre­sented to them, with­out re­al­is­ing that what our com­peti­tors were pub­lish­ing about us were fake news sto­ries. It spread like a virus, re­pub­lish­ing in­flam­ma­tory ar­ti­cles among them­selves so that it ap­peared to be true.

It has taken many years of in­ves­ti­ga­tion to clear our names and cor­rect our rep­u­ta­tion. For the false news cam­paign was de­struc­tive, much like that of Bell Pot­tinger’s Gupta cam­paign.

But In­de­pen­dent Me­dia and I were not in­volved in ne­far­i­ous oper­a­tions.

It is of no in­ter­est to them that Sekun­jalo and In­de­pen­dent Me­dia were cleared by the pub­lic pro­tec­tor and other reg­u­la­tory agen­cies. We de­fended our­selves when com­peti­tors pre­sented us as a house of ill-re­pute, lack­ing in­tegrity.

When we were vin­di­cated their si­lence spoke vol­umes about their bi­ased, harm­ful and defam­a­tory re­port­ing.

Read­ers have been led down the gar­den path by me­dia houses in­tent on de­stroy­ing that which be­comes a threat to them and the fake rep­u­ta­tions they have built.

BizNews and Naspers Me­dia24 are the im­moral al­ter egos of Bell Pot­tinger.

‘REPUBLISH FAKE STO­RIES’: The Naspers build­ing in Cape Town. The writer says they are the ‘im­moral al­ter egos of Bell Potinger’.

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