‘Free’ press puts big busi­ness first

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - COMMENT -

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.

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