Journalism And Connecting Events



affail_monney12The diplomatic line between Colombo and London is jangling.  The Ceylonese (Sri Lanka today) President fired broadsides at the British Prime Minister David Cameron for daring.  Mr Cameron said he would move a UN investigation into Sri Lankan military’s brutal treatment of civilians ending the decades of Tamil Tigers insurrection for independence from Ceylon, a former British colony. 

The Tamils got autonomy of a sort at the end.  That is yet to be fully functional and a hard core of dissent has raised an international lobby to demand an inquiry in the name of war crimes and human rights.  Mr Cameron predicated his ultimatum on an “IFY”—if the government in Colombo did not probe to achieve a rapprochement in that war-weary country.  The caustic verbal salvoes by the Sri Lanka President resonated “dzi wo fie asem” a la late President Atta Mills on the Ivory Coast cauldron.

The germane point he made is that it took the Brits 40 years to investigate “BLOODY THURSDAY” an infamous crushing in Northern Ireland by the British Army.  What it means is that Sri Lanka admits and compares its inglorious recent past with Britain’s earlier.  Both are two wrongs.  Prime Minister Cameron would seem to be saying that 40 years are more than long and beyond enough and with so much global advancement, Sri Lanka’s pussy footing is detrimental to peace there and the rippling could ignite another global intractable or even a mere irritant in  international affairs—not the best in our time.

The Anglo-Sri Lanka flack has occurred at an awkward moment for the Commonwealth.  There is going to be the Games in Glasgow (Scotland) shortly.  It so happens that this otherwise enviable jamboree’s  curtain-raisers become overshadowed by a pall or two of palavers and usually in the form of one or a number of the former British colonies against Britain, historical but euphemistically called the “Mother Country”.  I am keeping the history in perspective here to recall.  The Games, per se are jolly wonderful get-togethers for the sheer pageantry and the indelible impression it leaves in your mind’s eye.

Outside of that splendid tapestry is the unusual sordid event like a predecessor 1970 in Edinburgh.  A Scottish Daily [Express] shocked the world with a huge bannered front-page story about the African Contingents.  It said they were using or applying “Juju” to explain their all-round triumphs.  The story was written against a background of the Skull and Crossbow.  It sparked uproar, the denunciations were vehement and as embarrassing to both the organisers and host country and particularly the Duke of Edinburgh who was chief guest of honour.

In fact, the Africans [Darkies] excelled.  One rebuttal —a devastating condemnation of the false story was written by the Daily Mirror’s [then British leading Tabloid] Sports Correspondent.  He said the real African juju was on the circuit where the Darkies flew and the English and Scots crawled or in the boxing ring where the African boxers [Sulley Shitu (Bantamweight) outstanding] were simply thumping the whites to the canvass.   I should tell you the point in the colour inference.  The United Kingdom was in those years reeling under the color-bar stuff. It was dirty and dangerous.  So I feel that there is no more need to explain the context with regard to the furious reactions for understanding.

The follow through lies in the Sri Lankan President’s harsh retort to the British Prime Minister Cameron’s.  It typifies the lingering legacy of things read from a prism of the race issue just as in this country everything is translated into the government and opposition; the divided press outshout themselves hoarse with gusto for days into petulance, irrelevance and pettifoggery.  Take Vicki Hammah, for indiscretion, being too credulous and sacked rightly.   That is the fault essentially.  She spoke about her ambition.  She did not say she was going to achieve it illegally.  Has not everyone an ambition—ordinary or inordinate made or not made of ‘sterner stuff’?

I suspect the naysayers will jump to ask : “do we have to wait?”; but it is precisely what constitutes that presumption of guilt in a finished trial before the gravamen in the indictment is read out in an open court which repugnant and ugly professionally.  This then blinds caring [because of the general gullibility] to question the media over-flog of the matter.

The concern is in several ways but three may capsule them—moral, ethical and legal which is that the press had bought or received a stolen material and that the greater worry is whether the press eavesdropping is not getting out of hand into becoming a norm which it is not.  There are strict conditions under which this action would be justified—to expose malfeasance, public danger and deliberate misleading of the public to cover up and indeed Editors would be called on by a country’s Press Watchdog  to justify convincingly showing the “public interest’s imperative” for their intrusion into inclusive of privacy as part of their processing the exposure.

The tape recordings and claims of ability in the press to intercept official classified materials date back to 2000 and once neither governments nor national security did not question apparently pointing out the limits must have engineered the spiral threatening the suppression of even a private cough because technology can do anything or almost.  It is like a joke yet the trend in the press today had long been there in the act of framing up stories.  There are the very recent Chinese confessions of a Journalist and we have had ours too.  Something has got to give before we hit ourselves with a blitzkrieg—+you do me, I do you.  God no de vex+.

Of course, He does in His wayward ways. Once He advised Lucifer to stop doing evil after Lucifer had gone to complain to Him to stop His children blaming him [Lucifer] for every wrong and error they were in.  I mean the Driver who recorded the controversial private conversation between Vicki and her friend.  He is reported to have claimed that he thought the original recording had been tampered with; and had blamed the devil.  Legitimate questions, if anyone and media professionally cared, are: Who and Why?.  The next string would be was he alone in it, why, how did it get to the press and was he paid?

 

EAVESDROPPING

 

I have disposed of the tendency for the journalist to concoct as offspring of the eavesdropping.  Every one latches on to it and the result is a plethora of race in one-upmanship.  We saw it in 1980 after President Hilla Limann’s [3rd Republic] cabinet reshuffle press coverage and heads rolled in the aftermath regrettably which was too late.  Here again and years on, the’ dance macabre’ reached a crescendo.  I find it highly disturbing when some persons argue that the media has right to report.  My retort:”Report without circumspection”?

The last child of the new unacceptable fashion in the media is the shoddy politicisation.  There is a history to this also, started early 90s with journalism of crude abuse of authority and destruction of persons’ reputation with impunity in the name of freedom of the press from especially the cathedral of academia to warm applause in this country.  That bred quacks in journalism, irresponsibility and nudging up of populism of politicians in limbo as journalists used the opportunity to compete as celebrities, scaring the very politicians to praise them.

It could have been halted from one solid shining moment when President John Kufuor asked the Press on a GJA dinner platform to shift the paradigm from politics.  That was asking the press whether politics was all that mattered.  Our John ii (JAK) read the threshold had been crossed in the retrogression to make it clear that his government was not going to be dictated to on policy by the press.  Unfortunately John’s timely intervention without much result had been blighted by the commonly known truth that the same press had been used as the opposition when the political opposition had abnegated.

Whether chickens had come home to roost then or not, it is history being a continuing saga; but the Akan saying is that “nyimpa nnyi ho a, ne nyame wo ho”—right is right.  He was pointing at the dangers of the likelihood of a creeping anarchy of the press, the most dangerous for any democracy staring today.  In silhouette, perhaps.

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