Tuesday, 18 October 2016

WHEN JOURNALISM GOES WRONG


By Nyalubinge Ngwende
Okay! There are the ‘guardian angels’ of society wearing ‘exaggerated’ public interest apparel, flying around with sharp noses and bellies of ink. They are so sharp that their tongues can build or destroy, ink gorged from their bellies can heal or poison habits and their craft fingers can soothe or strangle lives, while light from their flashy eyes can amuse or abuse children. The decency of society is at their peril.

Society and its citizens, the stay-at-home kind and those who go by the natural duties of life—growing food, educating the masses, treating diseases and building cities rely on the skills of the guardian angels to bring them home an update of the daily events of the outside world. What people cannot see through their eyes, cannot hear through their ears and cannot comprehend through the bulk information, the media steps in to do the noble duty. You know the kind of good news, the beauty of new places being constructed, the scientific discovery of a panacea drug, government creating new jobs and all sorts of “blah… blah…blah” in print and on air, the media makes you make sense.

These guardian angels also collect, analyse, select and communicate the political decrees and those granted privileged positions of duties say. They bring good and bad news to the ordinary of society and also tell those in privileged positions about the ordinary lives, about the struggles of the ordinary world. 

Call them the press and fourth estate of the State, they also expose the privileged, granted responsibilities to serve society but end up abusing those duties—the baldheads and blood-clots (political crooks and tenderpreneures) that take what is not theirs and leave the widows and the orphans crying. 

The more the long-noses expose what makes the widows and orphans cry, the more they get the credit and increase those who admire their apparel, identical to their characteristic described here. 

The guardian angels also poke their noses and craft fingers in the lives of ordinary citizens, those who do extraordinary things for the good of society—like tending to the sick, volunteering to quench the neighbours’ house on fire, saving a bird trapped in the mesh of a fence and all kind of duties that are virtuous.  That is noble duty, and it is worth to call professional. It is truth and fair as long as it does not judge wrongly. 

Every rational ordinary member, with the gift to wisdom to see right and wrong, knows credibility is about objectivity, accuracy and fairness. That is serving public interest.

The wrong is when the events of those seeking the privileged position compete for mandate and seek the votes of the ordinary. Biases abound, you can even see the guardian angels lose their responsibilities and duties to society, flapping around like idiots. Then you know they have lost their bearings and credibility completely; don’t just trust anything they say at first sight about one candidate or another. Worse is when they become the Vuvuzelas, trumpeting noise for political despots as news and entertainment.
Worse is when the angels’ wings and faces turn yellow, and get to turn lives of the ordinary private people into entertainment. There is wonder why the lives of rebellious others in the lower base—those that have chosen their hedonistic path to the land at the teetering edge of the cliff; those seeking the aesthetic life to the extreme—should  make news entertaining. 

Why sensationalise as news the lives of those drowned in pleasure and imbibing in the intoxications of all kind—drugs, alcohol, and exhibitionist apparel that expose their bodies? Why romanticise than criticise and not defend the actions of entertainment protagonists whose music is so explicit insulting, exalting the privacy and pleasures of adulthood and lure into experiment the innocence of adolescence? 

These are problems that social agents must deal with to minimize harm on the closed families and individuals whose lives are now prised wide to lurid sex and drugs images and stories.

These are also things that the serenity of a good natural, call it closer-to-heaven life, abhor. Closer-to-heavens abhor the Red Light Street life and do not want its sexy dances, lyrics and skimpy fashion to come into homes and corrupt their minds and those of children.  

Among the long-noses, the craft-fingers, the flashy-eyes and photographic-mind, there are those who have found fun-fare to salivate upon the nudity of every man and woman and they produce adult pornography and sometimes innocent children they have lured in their snares, undressed and defiled—all for money. Or is it freedom of expression too?

Now! Should these sharp-long-noses, craft-fingers and snappy-flashing eyes and photographic-mind angels, start going into the lower world and bring these things into the lives of the moderate ordinary, and corrupt the good society of morals? 

Another something about the sharp-noses, the long-craft-fingers, the flashy-eyes and photographic-mind: they have tended to ply their duties beyond boundaries and sneak into private ordinary lives of other members of society.
They enjoy the freedom to preach to society morality that they themselves sometimes fail to uphold. They do so based on the principle of ‘public interest’ they claim, even without consent or commission from society.

This includes taking pictures of private activities of the intoxicated alcohol imbibing, skimpy dressed temperamental rebels in the world of entertainment.
Yes, it is known that even good fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, uncles and aunts, just like cousins, sometimes sneak into these entertainment places. They have side-stepped to seek happiness and sometimes chosen to indulge with just eyes. You know, ‘just looking’. But this sometimes has yielded to physical contact—who could resist the highway to pleasure after being drawn into the trap? That is life!

However, everyone knows and these, too, do: If any of the persons they are responsible to would know that friends and family members they care for go to the basement life, they would definitely be mad with them. Really mad! Like a wife shouting to the husband “who are you accountable to!” Anyway, that is life of choices and voyeurism.

The question is: does the practice of being sharp-long-nosed, ink-belly-filled and craft-fingers license them freedom to bring nudity from restricted public nightclubs into pages and motion pictures in the homes of those who have chosen decency. 

Is that not being extreme and interfering with the private lives of the morally upright? Especially if the pages and screens on which the private nights of those who choose to imbibe, dress skimpy and dance—close to stripping-off, are the same pages and screens on which the vital account of daily life affecting the ordinary are printed and beamed.

Wouldn’t society demand that these salacious pictures be kept out of public domain because those who want to see them go and pay for them at the nightclubs and entertainment venues? 

The old grandma will not sneak out at night to go and watch nudeness, but in her thick glasses trying to update are senile mind with the world news by reading a newspaper may be intruded by the nudity that she does not agree with. 

You claim the public’s right to know, and justify that nudity is happening out there hence, the pictures are printed to tell parents and wives to become more vigilant not to let their loved ones stray out at night. 

If your claimed purpose has ever been achieved, print the story of how many parents have their vigilance increased due to the naked pictures.
The commerce of entertainment goes on uninterrupted right under the license of government’s nose. Tell the country how much tax government collects or is failing to collect from the show-biz industry, then ordinary citizens would debate that.

Inform society how families have been destroyed, marriages broken and children orphaned due to husbands and fathers who patronize the night life, then society will be concerned and debate. Show them just pictures with captions clapping the nakedness then you are completely missing the intention. 

Mass media is a powerful tool and it is called the fourth estate of democracy. Wouldn’t its role to bring out real issues that make good citizens engage in robust debate about good governance serve better purpose than the naked pictures? 

Wouldn’t the issues of how to address crime to make society safe for everyone make much sense, just as the issues of raising public and individual health make appropriate news?

Interaction with a good media educates and builds a good society and a bad media foretells the obvious. People may selectively choose what to read and see in the print media and watch and listen to on television. But when the accessible source of their choices merges decency and indecency, then people are denied choices for the complete selective perceptions.

Poisoned groundnuts are the best bait for rats, the rats will come to eat and die. The same is nudity in the media and society. It corrupts, not the senile grandma in thick glasses, but the young people who are still curious will be lured by the pictures of weekend versions of the newspapers to seek the nightclub life and experience. Others may realise it is not their taste, but many more may be glued and that is why every night those nightclubs are filled as someone somewhere introduced them to that life through some form of lurid stories and images, mental or actual.
NN