Reasons why I do not want to be a journalist in South Africa
I must put my disclaimer up front, I am no trained journalist, and I opine and write without any formal journalism training from any institution. I happen to believe all humans are thinking beings and from that premise have an epistemology from which they consistently construct and articulate their respective opinions.
I also must upfront concede that many of my opinion pieces on a variety of subject- matter that spans our post – apartheid political discourse were published in among others the Pretoria News, City Press, Sunday Independent, and New Age newspapers at least since 2010. I equally had my material rejected because it was claimed I am not a trained journalist.
I therefore thought it right to ask myself if I would be a journalist in SA and came to the conclusion that perhaps it has less to do with my decision. Rather it was already determined for me in my pigmentation not to be since journalism in SA depicts the true state of our nation as a nation of deep complexities, extreme dualism, and entrenched racial realities.
1. It appears journalism in South Africa is only respected as the enclave of “white thinking.” Human thinking is afforded no space to bring original thought to the subject. Thus ‘black’ journalists are to comply with the “standard” set from “white thinking” realm and reality. The very same that dictates the claim of a 4th Estate right in the superlative. WD Wright, in his work ‘CRISES OF THE BLACK INTELLECTUAL’ argues, “Cruse was critical of Black intellectuals for being integrationists and not nationalists, he said this made them susceptible as well as submissive to the thought of white intellectuals, especially Jewish intellectuals”. In this epoch can the same be argued about the state of journalism and our media, perhaps Cruse captures our current media context.
2. It appears in order to be accepted as a journalist, regardless of colour you must in addition to everything also pass the litmus test of being subjectively critical to a ‘black’ government. In such you will in the name of the masses verbalise the utter displeasure with an illegitimate government, though the masses continue renewing its mandate. You must be anti-establishment and all you reporting must be directed by this notion.
You shall not use your gifted faculties endowed by your Creator to firstly ask or investigate for example what is generally called a “service delivery protest.” Your job is not to ask what it is; your task is to firstly accept that when you see people gather, loot, and protest it has to be a service delivery protest. From that premise, you will report and repeat a service delivery protest when it may be pure hooliganism, it could potentially be somebody fighting his ward counsellor in a political ego contest or even a potential ‘white’ business man (as we have seen in Tshwane and elsewhere) who pays people to occupy his unserviced land to force government to supply expensive bulk infrastructure to private owned land. Those who know in SA any of these could be the reason for unrest defined as ‘service delivery protest’. Yet our journalists and editors are oblivious to all this.
3. It appears your reporting and critique of a black led government must be scathing never balanced for at a fundamental level it must feed into the narrative of self-hate in which your sole obsession is to point out the proverbial warts on the identity of what is defined as ‘black’. This you must do until you in hopelessness of what is ‘black’ by what you see in the mirror resign yourself to a conflicted personality and ultimately rest in your integrated mind of “white thinking.”
4. It appears ‘black’ journalists even editors must conform to subjective reporting to trivialise sensational, rhetoric and cast ideological paradigms the same they never defined, but must comply with as paradigm. The ideological paradigms are already defined; you dare not contest, adjudicate, or question these yours is to comply with them. This subjectivism is palpable in publications like Daily Maverick where the bile of journalists like Ranjeni Munusamy who has become the guru on the ruling party internal politics is paraded daily. The Daily Maverick sees no need to critically reflect or assess the work of this journalist, because she is duly integrated into the paradigm of ‘black’ self-hate.
5. It seems ‘black journalists can’t make decisions on what to report, it’s not their prerogative to bring a fresh or untainted even authentic perspective on for example what has happened in SA in the 20 years. For any form of acknowledgment of progress means you not analytical, intelligent, or sharp but a puppet of this establishment. Hence, black journalists spend their hours scouting for dirt on blacks in government. They call friends inside to hear what is happening, they do not go to research institutions and ask critical questions on how many houses were built in these 20 years. They spent their hours in attempt of pontificating to political leadership how corrupt they are how useless an ANC-led government is. That is what occupies the stratum of their instructed thinking, because they not supposed to think but remain calibrated to this conformed ideological paradigm.
6. It appears there is a golden rule that prohibits you to report, opine, or share information that celebrates progress. The natural demand is for you to be a prophet of gloom, doom and mayhem – for this graduates you in celebrated journalism. ‘White’ journalists spends their energy digging up dirt on black people, resources are employed to feed this prism.
7. ‘Black’ journalists are trained to be suspicious of ‘black’ wealth, geared to question it if and whenever it sees it. They classically conditioned to investigate it when it fails it still has a right to speculate in publishing it with the singular intend to denigrate. No retraction ever corrects the damage caused and thus we have a media that shares an extraordinaire right to publish whatever it will on whomever without testing the veracity of the original claims. Eusebius McKaiser wrote an insightful and personal article recently on this. No journalist is trained to be suspicious of ‘white’ wealth it is naturally assumed theirs is attained by pure entrepreneurial and innovative honourable means. Black wealth is naturally from a corruption driven state based setting. No one is interested to ask how much of ‘white’ wealth is directly originating from Government in past, present and future tenses.
8. Journalists and reporters have no consciousness to protect the general psyche of our society from destructive graphics, it appears journalists are obsessed to share with its readership the most horrific, gross and inhumane exhibitions of depraved actions of human torture and insult. The unacceptable role in the destruction of our collective soul is never mentioned or engaged, because the media never owns up to its negative role. If a beheading of someone took place, why should we carry the images? What does this do to our collective soul, how are we helped in being shown the graphics, more so how our children are indelibly negatively affected by this kind of reporting?
In SA, you can have mutilated bodies on display particularly “black” bodies. One is reminded again to reflect on the 9/11 New York Twin Tower acts of violence, which we are told resulted in the deaths of over 3200 people yet we have not seen one American body in graphic display of militate of human dignity. The American media faulty as it is yet understands something about human dignity that we in our media consciously reject. Perhaps more disturbing is that this crude display of graphics suggests another level the reality of two different criteria of values informed by “white life” and “black life” realities not human life, and our journalists irrespective of colour feeds into this.
9. In SA, journalism is celebrated in lazy research; every day in SA a friend, colleague, family member or a justified or unjustified enemy can call a journalist if they want to deal with you. Often journalists depending on who the person is in the hierarchy of our varied strata of influence can run a story without validation of basic facts, without speaking or attempt speaking to the already declared guilty party.
It is all about the scoop. Recently Max Du Preez a veteran journalist in his last article for the 2014 year afforded himself the right to re-state absolute untruths of a Judge Squires ruling whom the media claimed to have said, “there was a corrupt relationship between Zuma and Shabir Shaick”. Despite this statement being refuted and denounced by the said Judge ages ago and any trained journalist will know and respect that yet Du Preez because he is a veteran and claimed barometer of thinking as a journalist feel free to state this as gospel truth to make his premise of stringed claims stand. Gutter journalism is celebrated.
10. Journalism has become a hustle of utter gossip hunt, in which the claim of press freedom is paramount protected by a 4 estate claim in what can only be defined as a right extraordinaire.
11. It is only when “white” journalists or editors are fired that you hear the complaints and see the launch of campaigns – ‘black’ journalists are fired daily and there is no eyebrow lifted for that.
12. To be an editor or journalist in SA in post – Apartheid context you must integrate. Malcolm X warned us all ages ago about the praxis of integration; those who are integrated become what they are integrated into. Thus, authenticity and a sense of identity outside this integration prove none-existent.
Our journalists are by design calibrated to fit this paradigm of ‘white’ thinking in which ‘white’ is celebrated, deemed honourable and whatever is ‘black’ a nightmare, useless, corrupt, evil and bereft of any sense of human dignity. The said reality is ‘blacks’ are today vocalising this with ease and apartheid has again succeeded in democracy to have the mind of blacks controlled by white thinking.
There is a case for authentic human thinking; there is a pervasive need for conscientious an deliberate duly owned institutions to actualise this authentic human thinking. The media in this country must be transformed from ‘white’ thinking to human thinking and press freedom cannot be a right extraordinaire in which we are bulldozed into an acceptance of self-hate when we have more than reason to celebrate who we are.
I challenge the black journalists and those who are in the thick of things to refute my claims; I challenge them to argue I am a lost cause, for a soul-search is needed not of convenience but a soul search in accountability to self and our future.
If this article can illicit, a conversation it would have succeeded I do not expect you to agree with me, I expect you at bare minimum to ask is there any semblance of truth in this.
Now you know why I cannot be a journalist but will remain a social commentator where I can share my thoughts liberally.
Clyde N. S. Ramalaine