Quality vs Quantity vs Gabbage

There is a real danger that I see lurking in the functioning of our media today. Television, radio, print and online are all suddenly drifting away from the tradition of what news are supposed to be. 'News' I was told by my teachers means 'newthings', meaning 'things that you have not had access to before they were communicated to you'. 'New' means 'not old'. 'Old' means 'been here before'. 'Been here before' means 'seen and heard'. 'Seen and heard' means 'in your memory bank already'.

Okay, but the way the media has been going there's something very worrying about their definition of what is news. See, the Bible will not claim to be a newspaper because it's dealing in inspired history and it has nothing new.

It was disheartening to some of us who think the media is a mirror of society when we realised that historically probing historypapers like Sowetan had succumbed to the temptations of yellow journalism in the wake of the entrance of Daily Sun in the market. Sowetan ceased to write credible articles, critical book, CD, films and art reviews as seasoned journalists left the junk to associate with newspapers worth their salt. The deteroriation in value of Sowetan saw the emergence of Star Tonight as a new medium of interrogating South African arts across the racial divide when for a long time it was associated with everything white like ballet, pop, rock and roll, one man shows at the Baxter Theatre and slapstick. It was even known to feature those big ensemble shows written and directed by white people and featuring an all-black cast and not those produced by darkies.

Tonight suddenly and rightfully occupied the space left by Sowetan when it embraced sleaze and hired models to write columns. Their attempt to resuscitate a brand as pioneering as The World saw them give it sleaze to be able to navigate the readership figure minefield. Audit Bureau of Circulations wasn't taking bribes. Daily Sun was kicking their ass like nobody's business and they couldn't see that the reason was the columns they were giving to politicians instead of journalists that were alienating LSM 1-6. Shwashwi was born and anybody who can write shit about other people was hired to chase on everyone doing something positive with their lives. Suddenly there was a cellphone picture of a man in a compromising moment on the front page and damning text. All of a sudden the celebrity took them to court and it was proven that they were wrong. Well, that was sub judice. Anyway who's such a dumb picture editor to allow cellphone produced images to pass off as credible newspaper copy?

For the life of me I can't even believe that some stupid and paranoid editor at Sundayworld once called me 'a plagiarist' because he couldn't handle the impending launch of my first poetry book (Journey with Me) which I made a mistake of discussing with him. The dreadlocked boy aspired to be a poet and the fact that nobody in the fraternity took him seriously (or maybe he didn't write anything worth being taken seriously) made him publish millions of articles about himself as a poet, even bragging about winning silver awards which we know are extended to every poet out there - millions of them. They are for every wannabe poet whose work can not speak for them but think that silverware would.

He tried to dirty up my name in a big way. I moved my lawyers to code red (high alert). The editor muthafucka didn't have sizeable balls to explain his moment of failure in a court of law but rather sent the big company's legal brains to bark at me. All in the name of strengthening his Shwashwi brand. Well, you know me, I give a dog a rope (even a chihuahua like him), I withdrew the summons because I didn't want to spend hard-earned money repairing his dented brain. Today, people have forgotten about him but I'm still here, publishing Kasiekulture and having released my second poetry book, Taste of my Vomit.

That is not the point though. The point is the Shwashwi culture and its repurcussions to the storytelling aspect of the media and our communal Afrikan traditions. Its mirror effect or lack of it. Along the same lines Mail&Guardian has grown in leaps and bounds to occupy a vacumn that should belong to Daily Sun, Sowetan and other so-called darkie newspapers out to patronise every black. M&G speaks more to their LSM than they do, and there is no chance in hell that they will speak (with or without authority) to M&G, City Press, Sunday Independent, Star and Sunday Times' LSM.

M&G's Friday supplement is my favourite and the motherbody's analysis and style of newswriting is at par with the New York Times if not ahead. Sunday Time's Lifestyle supplement also kicks butt. Sunday Independent is mostly dedicated to quality journalism. City Press misses the point with PULSE, which has degenerated since Mapula Sibanda left. Citizen is doing what Tonight used to be, speaking in a voice foreign to most darkie readers.

The Swashwi culture has seen emergence of television programmes like the short lived SABC1's Real Goboza and etv's Ripped. When radio stations have shows named Cheaters - Uyajola you wonder where is this world going. At the end of every Shwashwi-inspired defamation nobody wins as lawsuits are secretly settled out of court to avoid embarassment. Sometimes you wonder 'what embarrasment' since publishing the junk itself is embarassing enough. No wonder we hardly see any of their journalists scooping any credible award like Vodacom or Mondi Shanduka.

One celebrity has been so smeared with slime that he said it's so disheartening that it appears that these junk tabloids have a ready budget to counter any cashless celebrity's claim of defamation - no matter how founded. Not that you'll never win litigation against them as my lawyer shrewdly advised me, 'they will make the case drag on for years at the High Court until you don't have money to litigate, then they'll apply for the case to be struck off the roll. And for them, they have taught anyone they will later defame a lesson not to mess with them. If your case can not be dragged they will settle out of court and make you sign a non-disclosure contract'

And this is the story of Shwashwi and that page 3 on City Press. One wonders whether those are worth the trouble or they are feeding a society hungry of such cheap gossip that does not constitute news. What's the point of eating something but later not needing a liquid substance to quench your thirst?

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