19 August 2010

Latest on the disgraced Media Tribunal

Since my last post, No Media Tribunal, over 500 followers have joined the fray to oppose the Media Tribunal. I didn't realise there were so many irate internet nerds in South Africa.

media tribunal don't touch me on my media
More than 500 South Africans are against the Media Tribunal. I know, I counted them all.

Prominent people oppose the Media Tribunal


Some of the sane people opposed to the Media Tribunal include Pick n Pay's CEO and the US Ambassador.

People at grassroots level oppose the Media Tribunal


This is ironic because according to Jacob Zuma, the Media Tribunal is designed to protect ordinary people who he thinks are too stupid to know about the ombudsman or who cannot afford court proceedings against the boogy man media.

Well, if us ordinary, grassroots level South Africans are such high flyers that we need a Media Tribunal that censors the press to protect our anonymous reputations then why do we feel this way about the proposed media tribunal?
  • YES to Media FREEDOM. NO to Hitler's sentiments over the journos!

  • Don't touch me on my media.

  • I think someone once said something about history repeating itself. This farce is a bloody tragedy.

  • Most certainly - it's the run up to the Fourth Reich - The African Chapter.

  • This is exactly what the ANC fought against in the APARTHEID years, now THEY are simply re-branding it as DARKER APARTHEID!


These gems were taken from the comments on the No Media Tribunal twibbon page.

The ombudsman is jacked up


Smart, educated, experienced black people are the last kind of people the ANC wants. It's not so easy to sell them the revolutionary rhetoric of 'we're the liberation party, if you don't vote for us apartheid is coming back'. More like the libation party because they all seem drunk to me.

This is why the current press ombudsman, Joe Thloloe is having such a sweaty time in the hot seat. This is why Mzilikazi wa Afrika is having such a tough time to stay out of jail, and why convicted fraudsters like Schabir Shaik gets parole. Jackie Selebi will probably catch something like a near-lethal ingrown toenail soon. We need this Media Tribunal like a fish needs a bicycle.

It's up to you to guard our freedom!


Thank you so much to all those who have joined the debate and have voiced concern over the Media Tribunal. I know many of you felt patriotic when you stuck those retarded condom flags on your car mirrors and I laughed at you for turning your cars into twat mobiles. Now it's my turn to feel patriotic, not because of some liberation movement or some politician, but thanks to ordinary South Africans who realise that treating free speech you dislike with censorship is akin to treating dandruff by decapitation, like Saint Frank Zappa used to say.

Feel free to leave me a comment!

14 comments:

Murray Hunter said...

Hi, it's @muzhunter. To continue our exchange in more length... [On reading the post below, I realise it's come to more length than I expected! Apologies in advance.]

I would like to set aside the dispute over whether or not Zuma should be compared to Hitler. I hadn't realised that was taken from the comments section, although you reluctant to distance yourself with the comparison. It brings to mind Godwin's Rule of Nazi Analogies (or Zimbabwe/Mugabe Analogies, for that matter). You call it guerrilla ontology - I call it problematic, because inevitably it draws attention to similarities while downplaying the vast differences, which are just as important. This does nothing to promote an informed debate.

I'm a bit confused about your tweets, which said: "I believe that the Protection of Information Bill, of which MAT is merely an extension, is unconstitutional"

I don't think that's correct. While these are both part of the debate about media freedom, they're separate threads. The Protection of Information Bill makes no mention of a media appeals tribunal. (Full text here: http://blogs.timeslive.co.za/vault/2010/07/28/protection-of-information-bill-text/).

Likewise, the ANC discussion document that calls for a Media Appeals Tribunal makes no mention of the Protection of Information Bill. (Full text, if you have the stamina, is here: http://www.communitymedia.org.za/alt-media-resources/218-anc-discussion-document-2010)

I share your view that the Information Bill is unconstitutional. I argued that we need to focus more on the Protection of Information Bill right now, and avoid conflating it with a Media Appeals Tribunal. That doesn't mean we should ignore it entirely, but surely a Bill currently accepting submissions from the public is a more urgent matter than something that is not yet a Bill.

It doesn't seem unfair to say that the campaign you instigated focuses more on the Media Tribunals Act - the twibbon says "No Media Tribunal". Therefore while I admire the proactive gesture, I pointed out that I believe it draws us away from the core issue.

More importantly, while you argue that the Twibbon campaign is part of a grassroots movement because of SA's high mobile penetration, to my knowledge there are approx. 55,000 active Twitter users in SA. 0.11% give or take. Your campaign is a tremendous success in the context of SA's social media usage - 830 people and counting - but I am also mindful of the fact that this is the tip of the iceberg; voices of the majority are under-represented even as we presume to campaign for their freedom.

And this is the problem more generally with SA's mainstream media. With the exception of a few titles which don't appear to be prominent in the very vigorous campaigns against PoI Bill and proposals for MAT [e.g. Die Son], SA's media have a tendency to "look past" the majority of South Africans, the poor. It's a well-worn axiom that those in the lowest rungs of the Living Standards Measures don't have mainstream media watching their backs, because with the exception of the tabloids they aren't consuming print media which are driving investigative journalism in this country. (Mobile penetration or not, so far it's almost exclusively the revenue of print media which pays for SA journalism.)

And even the tabloids go for people on the second and third rungs of the LSM.

Murray Hunter said...

Tragically there's a second half :P

The key here is that while the ANC proposals are a serious threat to press freedom, the press itself needs to do some soul-seeking on whose interests they represent, and to what extent commercial enterprises catering for the wealthy minority can fully justify their role as "protectors of the public interest". We need to trashn the ANC proposals and THEN move on to that discussion.
The best stance on this I've seen is that of the alternative press NGO, the AIDC: http://www.communitymedia.org.za/alt-media-resources/220-more-media-not-less (worth reading to the end, IMO)

As a journalist, I can't ignore the fact that the self-regulatory system, the ombud, is weak and under-developed. Newspapers which misreport the facts on their front page can issue a small forgettable apology hidden on the third page. Punishment does not match the damage. Or, as happened this month, they will misreport the facts in print and online, but refuse to issue a retraction on both platforms: http://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/Mkhize-Paper-wont-apologise-online-20100817

These are my concerns. You say that unconstitutionality should not be a matter for debate and I agree. But advocates of a free press need to look seriously at inequalities inherent in our media, and work to address them. Otherwise how different is it to say that we support freedom of expression for the rich and the powerful?

Garg the Unzola said...

Thank you for the comment!

Guerilla ontology is a technique to shake up extremely fixed world views. The originator and master of this is Robert Anton Wilson, who describes it thus: "Ontology is the study of being; the guerrilla approach is to so mix the elements of each book that the reader must decide on each page 'How much of this is real and how much is a put-on?". My blog is not meant to be journalism, it's mental masturbation and verbal diarrhea on my part that is hopefully entertaining and thought-provoking on your side.

Thank you for pointing out that the Protection of Information Bill and Media Tribunal are separate issues.

They are indeed separate bills, however the PoI bill mentions a body called an independent Information Protection Oversight Centre (IPOC). Its role is unclear to me (I have not read the bill, only the commentary of Ronnie Kasrils Defend democracy don't gag it. It seems to me that this is the origins of the disgraced Media Tribunal (I could be wrong, so please correct me).

This is my first attempt at viral marketing in practice. As such, the no media tribunal campaign is an ad hoc movement that occurred spontaneously. This is the real meaning of a grassroots movement. Grassroots is not related to socio-economic circumstances or to media penetration. If you want to see how the 'grassroots' movements of the underrepresented poor deal with campaigning, look no further than the public sector strike.

I'm sorry but I have no sympathy for them. They must root each other out to make place for decent human beings worthy of respect in South Africa.

Garg the Unzola said...

The press itself needs to do some soul-seeking on whose interests they represent, and to what extent commercial enterprises catering for the wealthy minority can fully justify their role as "protectors of the public interest".

This is not a matter that needs legislation or tampering with the Constitution to resolve. Newspapers are - like it or not - just another product that needs to find a market. It's supply and demand that determines which interests a newspaper serves.

Newspapers which misreport the facts on their front page can issue a small forgettable apology hidden on the third page.

This is a big issue but it negates the responsibility of readers to be critical. I also believe that our legal system is fully capable of treating cases that have merit where infringing on privacy etc. are concerned. The ombudsman is just an alternative, cheaper route, that I believe is ultimately more influential than a court ruling.

But advocates of a free press need to look seriously at inequalities inherent in our media, and work to address them. Otherwise how different is it to say that we support freedom of expression for the rich and the powerful?

What inequalities? I see newspapers that sell to poor people and newspapers that sell to rich and powerful people. The poor people like to hear how poor they are and how it's the rich folks's fault. The rich people like to read about how to get richer. Ultimately the press is an industry subjected to the rules of supply and demand. I don't believe that everyone has a right to a certain channel of information. Having the right to express yourself is different from having a right to occupy a medium you did not establish.

Libertas said...

I actually agree in large part with Garg: you cannot legislate for quality journalism. Further, Muzhunter's claim about "inequalities inherent in our media, and [the need] to address them" is horribly unsubstantiated. What does it mean to have inequalities inherent in the media? Also, you conflate the teleology of journalism (which is to report the truth and nothing but the truth) with an egalitarian project to establish equality, something newspapers are not mandated to do nor capable of doing either. I would contend that 'niche' papers with an exclusive, indeed perhaps elitist audience like M&G(which is read by a mere 233 000 south africans) actually do a public good by addressing the heinous cupidity of members of state. Such moves promote accountability and amplify the few voices that are available to the common man (certainly much louder than "The Voice" itself!)

Additionally, you point us to the AIDC proposal by Mark Weinberg, which I found to be a poorly thought out piece. Take for instance one of its principal contentions regarding the existence of the cartel of media groups running all the papers in the country. The only way this argument would have any import would be if it could be shown that the collusion of interests results in fixed prices of papers which SA law already explicitly prohibits against. Additionally, the virtually impossible-to-prove claim implicit in the article is that somehow this would result in a mass production of monolithic opinion in the country which would stifle the possibility of alternative 'diverse' views. I really don't know how to prove or disprove this virtual conspiracy theory except to say that if you check up the press freedom index published by freedom house every year South Africa's total score is 30 for the year 2009. By comparison, the US score is 18: this, a nation that presumably (although I haven't checked) has even greater number of press agencies, greater internet connectivity and a much more educated, literate populace than South Africa's. If the existing state of media ownership still confers a greater degree of press freedom in this country, what makes the author of this article think that breaking up the media cartel will give greater freedom or increase the number of 'people-oriented' articles?

Furthermore, the claim that is made in this article, that "market profitability drives all media" ignores the fact that the major source of news for most of this country's people is the radio which if I'm not mistaken is mostly state controlled and not for profit. In its list of recommendations it demands a 'diversity tax' to be imposed on papers. This is preposterous! How do you expect taking revenues from what the author concedes are resource-limited papers to then boost their coverage of 'diverse' issues ('diversity' being ill-defined if at all in this article). There are also a host of unfounded/unsupported claims e.g "media strive to affirm prejudices of a tiny elite". How so? The papers that expose the most heinous government cupidity (stealing money that should rightly be used for the alleviation of the dire poverty in this country) are read by a tiny minority (e.g M&G read by 223 000 people). Presumably these articles are 'in the interests of the working class and the poor' the author refers to? The papers that are actually read by most of the poor (2.23 million of them) often tend to report about mysterious pythons attacking individuals in Khayelitsha and dead rappers being spotted in Mitchells' plain (alive of course). This entire debate takes as its central assumption that there is something fundamentally wrong with the media and its self-regulatory mechanisms without showing any evidence of this. While this doesn't mean the state of the media cannot be improved, it does mean we need to move on to more important issues in this country (many of which were outlined in this article) and leave the media as it is.

Garg the Unzola said...

Libertas, thank you for the comment! Your comment should be in tact, please verify everything is there.

I think the failure of this entire debate is to poise it as a Neo-Liberal versus expansionist policy of the nanny state ideological battle.

I agree with you that no amount of legislation is going to fix the media's problems, nor fix crappy journalism. On the contrary, my conviction is that the more you regulate things, the bigger mess you make of them. If anyone can name one parastatal that is not an abortion, I will eat my words.

As I'm trying (without much success..) to bring home to those in the debate is that this is fundamentally an issue of separation of powers. A press that is kept accountable to the government (regardless of your particular ideology or the ideology of the government) cannot be free.

The Media tribunal is designed to be a statutory body that does nothing but censor the press to ensure that it hammers home good news about the government. This is not a disguised plan but openly stated in the discussion document of the media tribunal (linked to above, thanks to Murray Hunter).

In fact, the Constitution guarantees freedom of the press under Section 16 of the Bill of Rights. Scary part is those in the debate refer to the Bill of Rights as something that is relative or something that is merely a rough guide farted out after a couple of beers by a few gung-ho politicians. This is problematic because it implies that those who fear the Neo-Liberals or whichever ism currently fashionable to hate will even consider changing the Constitution to legislate more industries into the ground the way that Eskom and the SABC have been.

And at the root of it all, it is so obvious that the tribunal is there to prevent skinder stories of politicians reaching voters. Now we are debating ideology and industry, whereas it's really a simple matter of not allowing those with conflicts of interest to dictate what is newsworthy and what is not.

Garg the Unzola said...

By the way, Murray, if you are interested in transparency, you could've posted your Beware the No Media Tribunal twibbon comments on my blog. This way I could address the allegations against me - that is, if you are interested in debate.

I shall address your allegations:

He uncritically endorses a comparison of Jacob Zuma to Hitler and Mugabe
(a bit alarmist if you ask me, not exactly contributing to an intelligent
debate)


This is not true. You yourself have mentioned that there are similarities between Jacob Zuma, Robert Mugabe and Adolf Hitler. I do not endorse an uncritical comparison, I merely mentioned an uncritical comparison - as a direct quote - from one of the comments on the twibbon page.

Seems to have conflated the Media Appeals Tribunal with the Protection of Information Bill.


Seems to? Did I or did I not? Show some balls and take a stance.

You can plainly see that I did not conflate the two. I knew that they are two separate bills, my assumption was that the Media Appeals Tribunal followed from the IPOC proposals, as I clearly stated above. Which part is unclear that it would 'seem' that I conflate the two?

Garg the Unzola said...

He does not engage with shortcomings of the current media landscape. I share the views of the AIDC when it says that as we critique the ANC's
position on media regulation we also need to understand where media institutions are failing the public, and what needs to be done to create media access for all.


The government already owns the majority of the media. You and I both know that the Media Appeals Tribunal has very little to do with media access. As mentioned, radio is the most popular and most widespread medium and it already belongs to the ANC.

I have no problem with the ANC's position on anything, provided that they (or any other political party) do not abuse organs of the state to instil their position at the expense of all other positions.

He is strongly resistant to the idea of ANC ideology being instilled in media institutions, but does not consider that these media institutions might already be under the sway of an ideology of sorts.

I painstakingly avoided silly ideological claptrap because I do not believe it is a function of government, nor of the press, to drive home any ideology. I realise that some ideologies are very prominent in the press. The difference is that you seem to endorse the idea that 'good' ideologies should be propagated at all costs, even if it takes a statutory to do so, while 'bad' ideologies should be attenuated at all costs - even if it takes a statutory body.

As I'm trying to point out to you: it is unconstitutional to abuse a statutory body that is answerable to government to drive home ANY ideology. The press at this stage can choose which ideology they want to drive home, without interference from government to censor 'good' ideologies from 'bad'. It is precisely in this area where Zuma and Hitler are IDENTICAL.

Garg the Unzola said...

I also pointed out the inaccuracy of applying the word "grassroots" to a campaign targeting Twitter, which is used by 0.11% of South Africans (55,000). That's a pretty small patch of grass, if you ask me!

You seem to conflate the term grassroots with numbers. Like I explained to you, grassroots movements are movements that occur spontaneously. They are called grassroots because they occur from the bottom up. A case in point is the Tea Party campaign against excessive taxation in America. A party such as the ANC with huge clout and government representation cannot possibly start a grassroots movement - even though they may have originated as one. You also seem to conflate the amount of South Africans on twitter with people who I am targeting with this campaign. You will note that about a quarter of the support for my twibbon comes from facebook, not twitter. As I pointed out to you, South Africa has 1 cell phone for more than 80 percent of the population, and most people use their phones to access the internet.

Seriously, man. If you take issue with my views, feel free to discuss them directly with me instead of starting some propaganda email chain that you can send to your Red Brigade friends. You know my blog's URL and your chain mail is not really working towards media freedom or transparency now is it?

Well then. I guess we should save the poor from themselves...

Or leave them to their own devices. You do trust decent, respectable human beings to be left to their own devices, don't you?

However, the
massive outcry against ANC proposals on press regulation has created a situation whereby people of all political stripes are temporarily aligned on
the same axis of purpose. This can be both a positive or negative thing


I think it is a very possible thing if people can see past their ideological claptrap and support worthy causes - for their own reasons. One such worthy cause - I believe - is my No Media Tribunal twibbon campaign.

You may support whatever campaign you wish, but I do not believe the views behind the campaign instigator are
compatible with anyone who supports media diversity and development.


What is media diversity?
What is development?
If your ideology relies on such ill-defined terminology, I shudder to think what would happen if you had a statutory body to drive it home.

However, I wished to alert you to that ideology so that you can make an informed choice.

Which ideology is this?

Informed choices are not made by peddling chain emails on google groups. If you believe the hacker ethic, information wants to be free.

Besides, I made a follow-up blog post where I linked to informative links on the differences between the Protection of Information Bill and the Media Appeals Tribunal document. Since you claim to be interested in informed choices, I would appreciate it if you read it and told me if I got my facts straight with a helpful comment on my blog. It's called peer-review and surprisingly this kind of self-regulation is incredibly effective...

Libertas said...

(secular) Amen, Garg. Murray, seriously, win the argument before trying to win everyone else over to your side. Instead of trying to advocate for your ideas you're merely trying to lampoon your opponent using atrocious rhetoric. The frustration many like myself (and I suspect Garg too) have is that while the misgivings Zuma and Malema have with the free media are somewhat understandable, it is the equivocation of people like you that truly rankles. You can't pretend not to comprehend the implications of ridiculous proposals like slapping a 'media diversity' tax on newspapers, or for making unfounded allegations such as the ones Garg has laudably jettisoned. The worst thing this does is that members of the intelligentsia such as yourself, who appear to find it difficult to reconcile ANC's legendary past with its less-than-legendary present, find yourself in the odd position of trying to find fault with the most democratic of mediums available to the ordinary citizen. Such equivocation, apart from being dishonest is also deeply dangerous. It manifests itself in the despicable positions currently being taken by the likes of Jeremy Cronin, Ben Turok, and many others of the liberal left. I also find it terribly unacceptable that many individuals like yourself who have suddenly discovered the flaws inherent in SA media and try to unearth a kernel of legitimacy in ANC's fascist plan to muzzle the free press, were largely silent when Ebrahim Rasool of the ANC bribed journalists to write positive stories about himself. ANC's current media proposal is nothing more than attempt to do in broad daylight what Rasool did in the darkness of the night.

Murray Hunter said...

Garg, you're right. Like all emails penned in anger, it probably should have been binned. I apologise for what in the cold light of day is clearly an uncivil attack.

I raised similar points in my comments above, so this email to various people involved in media development agencies was for their information. i didn't ask anyone to boycott your campaign, but gave them the option to evaluate whether or not it conflicted with their values (aside from freedom of the press). I do not think this was malicious, although clearly my email was written with inappropriate bile so once again, I apologise unreservedly.

Media diversity and media development are not that vague, although I'll grant you they're not regular conversation topics. Recognising that the commercial media in SA are mostly under the control of three companies, plus a fourth slightly more minnowy one, and bearing in mind most of them cater to people in the upper register of the LSM, there's been an ongoing effort to create new media outlets that cater towards people in the forgotten margins and neglected marketshare - community newspapers, rural newspapers, radio stations, in a few select cases TV stations such as CTV. This has been recognised in an Act of Parliament - Act 14 (2002), seeking to bring broader media access to "historically disadvantaged communities and persons not adequately served by the media".

Overwhelmingly, the people working in those groups call for freedom of the media - although bear in mind, the ANC discussion document mentions a media tribunal among a host of other recommendations to alter the media landscape. There's plenty more to be concerned about.

Garg the Unzola said...

No worries. Once again, I avoided ideological sidetracking because I'm convinced that you won't be happy if I had a statutory body to spread my ideology (whatever that may be). It's the old put yourself in another's shoes debate, instead of forcing others to be in your shoes, as the public sector strike requires.

The No Media Tribunal campaign is merely a case of avoiding a situation - such as that in Nazi Germany and in Zimbabwe, among others - where the government has a statutory body that holds the press accountable. In both cases, the pretence was that they are serving the 'grassroots' citizens, that it's not a personal vendetta against the media and they won't abuse this power anyway, because they know better. Sounds familiar, doesn't it?

Firstly, this is not effective in promoting a free press (in fact, one definition of a free press is one that does not have government oversight). Secondly, it's not very effective in keeping ideologies in tact. How many Germans would vote for Hitler today? How many Zimbabweans today would vote for Robert Mugabe if they had free and fair elections? Perhaps this is the burning issue for Jacob Zuma, namely that many people are having second thoughts about voting for the ANC - as they should in any democracy. The value of democracy is that it's a constant battle to stay on top - between ideologies and between different parties. More (unregulated) competition results in a kind of self-regulation that is unmatched in efficiency. This is not an ideological point, it's a demonstrable fact and it works so well that it is used in computer science to search for solutions (google particle swarm optimisation and genetic algorithms if you want to know more).

By the way, I summarised our discussion here on the latest post Media Appeals Tribunal update.

And by the way, there is a difference between development and media development. Regardless, in both cases, I feel that to be empirical about this, make 2 lists: one of countries you think have a high degree of development and one of countries you regard as having a high degree of media development. Next, consider their relationship between the press and their government. If you want to be really out there today, see if you can identify the dominant ideologies in those countries. Are these ideologies hammered in by government there? Surely it makes more sense to adopt similar models that worked there if we were really concerned about diversity and development?

I venture a wild guess that you won't find any country with statutory bodies overseeing the press on any of those lists.

Once again, it's not a case of good intentions or bad. My argument is not for or against any ideology, merely that the bills as they currently stand are unconstitutional so they don't merit consideration by parliament. Even if their intentions are wonderful.

Murray Hunter said...

My above reply was made before I read your, Libertas. I'll briefly note that, just as Garg said on Twitter "ug I give up", I also felt frustrated. Evidently Garg handled it better than I did.

the following accusations are a bit silly:
*That I'm somehow infatuated with the ANC
*That I've recently "discovered" flaws in the way the media works. We've been talking about this since the 1990s.
*That I (or we?) are trying desperately to squash the Rasool-bribed-Smith story. I'd like to see him slapped with criminal charges, probably like you.
* That arch socialists Cronin and Turok are members of the "liberal" left (just a mood-lightener, guys)

I would like to think I am as unromantic about the ANC's proposals - both PoI Bill and the Media Tribunal - as I am about the current shortfallings of the press. While the ANC proposals are clearly unacceptable, I don't want us to lose sight of the fact that the press - one of the most democratic institutions available to our people - is not democratic enough. If you think i'm nit-picking or fault-finding here, I'd say that's a pretty significant nit to pick at.

Sure, let's scrap the statutory provision. Here we have common ground. It's ground we also share with my friends of the "Red Brigade", the AIDC. But my prickly reaction to "media freedom" movements comes when I feel they uncritically embrace the current media landscape. The self-regulation system that lacks anything approximating "teeth" - unless you feel the press can do no greater damage than can be repaired by a small apology tucked away in the corner of a page.

Countries with much more sophisticated systems of press freedom, such as Denmark, often also have very sophisticated systems of what I just called media development: publicly funded support structures that give money and support to organisations developing alternative media outlets so that everybody (or most people) can get a slice of media on their own terms and in their own political idiom. These recognise the difference between public support and state control - which clearly the cadres don't.

Now, if I've conflated your views with powerful trends in the debate (viz. uncritically embracing the media status quo - as I feel you have done with my views - I apologise.

A final note - a sidenote at that - I contested your term "grassroots" because the twibbon campaign seemed likely to begin and end with the middle classes and intelligentsia. In terms of social stratification, anyway, it seemed not to come from the bottom up so much as the middle up. Again, just prickliness on my part, and it stems from my concern that media discussions are distorted in favour of the elite and the privileged, among whom i number myself. Perhaps "hedgetops" movement?

Garg the Unzola said...

My No Media Tribunal campaign is only aimed at scrapping the idea of statutory oversight of the media.

Countries such as Denmark? There is no other country like Denmark. The top countries listed on the Press Freedom Index all of greatly different economic models but none of them have statutory bodies that control the press. Diversity is good, right?

Grassroots movements refer to spontaneous movements driven by the politics of a community. The term grassroots is thus decoupled from a specific class or social strata.

Feel free to browse through the people who have pledged their support for the No Media Tribunal campaign. Look at their faces, read their comments. Then decide if they are 'grassroots' or proletariat enough for your liking?

The press is very critical of its own shortcomings so the claim that many are jumping on a media freedom bandwagon uncritically is unsupported. Even the other media freedom movements admit that there are problems with the press, but not enough so to merit a statutory body to oversee the media.

The press omdubsman himself has admitted that he isn't perfect and that there are big media issues. Nobody questions the fact that there are media issues, but it appears that hardly anyone thinks a statutory body such as the Media Tribunal, or the Protection of Information Bill would serve to improve the press.

Think of South Africa under the NP during apartheid, when it had no competition. The current situation in South Africa is very similar, with the ANC being a defacto one party state. A one party state is not dangerous because of its ideology, but because in lieu of competition, a one party state can do whatever it likes.

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