‘Free’ press puts big business first
THE PROTECTION of State Information Bill is disconcerting. Civil society’s fear for press freedom is justified.
However, the complicity between big business and mainstream media is a bigger threat to press freedom.
Premier Foods was guilty of pricefixing of bread. The media reported mildly on the matter.
One would have expected them, as the public watchdog, to be more vocal about the fraudulent pricing of staple foods. The media as a public watchdog should have called for Premier Foods’ executives’ heads.
Recently the JSE fired Allan Thomson for trying to expose “insider trading”. Thomson was made the bad guy. Banks could have been implicated, but the media handled it with kid gloves.
The levels of white collar crimes far exceed the government’s “black” collar crime and are far more damaging. Yet mainstream media lack the will to expose white collar crime.
The ANC proposed the nationalisa- tion of certain mining processes through beneficiation.
For almost a year the media vilified Malema’s nationalisation rhetoric. They avoided a meaningful discussion of any form of nationalisation and concentrated on the preservation of the political economy.
Immediately after the ANC pro- posed that all diamonds mined in the Northern Cape be cut and polished there and only then sold abroad, the media identified flaws with the plan relating to electricity supply and poor transport infrastructure.
Everyone is calling for media diversity.
However, media diversity amounts to justifying the current economic hegemony in all 11 languages, or from an Islamic viewpoint.
We need real alternative media; not the voices who drove alternative media pre-1994 but who are now in comfort zones in mainstream media and are reporting under the pretext of alternativeness.
Alternative media requires critical content backed up by social activism.
As long as the symbiotic relationship between big business and media exists, the press will never be free.