Mmegi Online :: Media should not be fearful of criticism
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Last Updated
Tuesday 19 March 2019, 17:14 pm.
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Media should not be fearful of criticism

The media is referred to as the Fourth Estate acting as a complement to other arms of government being the Legislature, the Judiciary and the Executive. The name Fourth Estate was first used in 1787 by Irish politician, author and philosopher Edmund Burke.
By Mmegi Editor Fri 29 Sep 2017, 08:21 am (GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: Media should not be fearful of criticism








The name fits well for the simple reason that the media provides checks and balances against the three arms of government. As much as we expect parliamentarians, judges, and Cabinet ministers to be responsible for their actions, and leading by example, the same should apply on us.

We criticise MPs for formulating unjust laws and policies; we criticise the Judiciary for judgments we deem unfair; and we ‘hammer’ ministers who abuse their office to enrich themselves and to oppress the voiceless.

We are also referred to as the watchdog and we should appreciate that there are others who are watching us.

However, there are some individuals in the noble profession of journalism who behave like demigods and do not want to hear a word that criticises their conduct or that of fellow journalists. It is wrong for some journalists to peddle lies against some individuals and scream press freedom when such individuals express dissatisfaction at the offending articles published about them. For the last five years or more, the media has regressed and is in total disarray. The Media Institute of Southern Africa is dead and it was the only organisation that could bring media practitioners under one roof to enable them to introspect. Unlike other professions, media practitioners hardly come together to introspect and exchange ideas on best practices. Young journalists are lost and they think that they should compete with public figures

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for attention. The advent of social media has made matters worse, as journalists find the temptation to separate their personal views from professional views hard to resist.  We make statements on social media that are difficult to distinguish from our professional duties and when others complain we fiercely defend our unfair utterances as press freedom, at the same time accusing aggrieved individuals of posing a threat to our freedom. We should work harder to distinguish news from opinion, as this will absolve us from a lot of trouble.

We should welcome criticism if we are to improve service to our customers and earn their trust and respect. Lastly, we should embrace aggrieved parties when they approach us to show us our mistakes because we are humans and governed by laws. Above all, we need self introspection and to go back to the cross roads if it is necessary to do so. Otherwise, we will continue to lose trust from our readers and to face more lawsuits that could have been avoided if a good relationship existed between our stakeholders and us. 

Today’s thought 

“Freedom of the press is essential to the preservation of a democracy; but there is a difference between freedom and license. Editorialists who tell downright lies in order to advance their own agendas do more to discredit the press than all the censors in the world”. 

– Franklin D. Roosevelt

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Editorial
Fri 29 Sep 2017, 08:21 am
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Wed 27 Sep 2017, 11:45 am
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