As a multimedia journalist, the last decade of what we call “journalism's” progress and regress has been exhilarating and yet very disturbing. While many of the colleagues I respect locally and globally have done incredible work in telling wonderful stories and exposing ugly truths; when writing about Afrika, complex interests come into play. These include the direct assault by elite corporate and thus politically owned media juggernauts on the human rights to know the truth, and the freedom to express oneself freely and openly in the publics' best interests.
In South Africa, media houses are owned by an elite few who control the content, flow of information and public opinion on everything from what freedom is versus democracy; to the rights of our mineworkers; to the latest consumerist products we are hypnotised into buying. Similarly when writing about Afrika, insidious tricks are used by some of the biggest names in journalism to support the imperialist ambitions of the elite. These tricks include disinformation, prop-agenda, cognitive dissonance, selective reporting and outright lying. EG: Do you know we are being poisoned daily by Monsanto etc?
Increasingly, journalists, activists and communities turn to social media to connect directly with independent sources in South Africa, DRC, Egypt or Tunisia etc; and are therefore able to decipher truth from falsehoods in real time. This creates a strong [but not strong enough] pressure on mainstream media to report responsibly as campaigns and boycotts [against not only oppressors but their puppets] become clearer and known far more widely. The Nigerian example of the#BringBackOurGirls?campaign is a critical one. So well planned was its oily execution that most of the world is oblivious to the warmongers' secret, controlling hands.
While independent films like The Square [about Tahrir Square resistance at the height of the Arab Spring] remain beacons of hope about the nature of real journalism; the crucial need for diverse voices to be heard; and the new 5th estate - we must remain ever watchful when consuming information often wrapped up as high drama entertainment - or weapons of mass distraction. As journalists, we have a moral obligation to use our skills to empower others. For it is still as George Orwell said: “'In a time of deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” Take Back Our Power, We Have Everything To Fight For.