In the media moral realm where there is scant consensus over what constitutes a proper basis of moral behaviour I will not attempt to dictate moral codes. Media houses are free to report on anything and everything and in any which way they want for as long as ‘agreed’ ethical boundaries are respected. The least we can ask is for the media to respect the consumer of the news.
I respect the right of media houses to align themselves with any political ideals, party factions and leadership provided such media openly renounce their claim to neutrality. There is no way a media with compromised allegiances can provide an impartial critic; that just does not happen.
Zimbabwean media houses are fast turning into architects of destruction that manipulate political facts, modify the political space and corrupt public political understanding for the benefit of politicians. Selling partial truths in carefully modified contexts with the sole intention to deceive the population compromises the quality, advancement and diffusion of political knowledge in the country.
We are increasingly seeing biased political analyses from the hoard of Tsvangirai protectionists in the media who provide a stream of unbalanced and often unhelpful critic of Zimbabwean politics. There is no suggestion here that lies are being dished out yet the fact that something is not a lie does not in any way suggest it is not deceptive. Portions of truth taken from specific contexts are deliberately presented in completely different contexts to pursue particular agendas. The object of which is nothing beyond diverting attention from Tsvangirai and his clear lack of political direction and policy. No amount of Ncube or Mangoma or Biti vilification by the media will turn a dodo into an eagle; Tsvangirai has incredible deficiencies as a leader and is no good fit for the future that most Zimbabweans aspire to.
Instead of vilifying men (Welshman, Mangoma and other dissenting voices) that the media think are inconsequential in opposition politics, the media must be giving the public a good reason why Tsvangirai is good for Zimbabwe. Popularity is not in itself policy or necessarily an indicator of goodness of one; granted Tsvangirai is currently the most popular opposition leader but, is that popularity a direct response to his good leadership and policy grasp or the strong hatred of the current regime? Slogans are no solutions! At one point ZANU PF’s Robert Mugabe was the most popular political leader but we all know where his popularity and policies have taken the country.
The media must be telling people what is happening as opposed to trying to tell them how they should understand events. The role of both the public and private media should not be to advertise political parties or leaders; that is a job for party publicists. At best, the media’s role should be to create adequate space for impartial political interaction, present people with facts (including unpleasant ones), philosophies and competitive values and leave the public to be the judge of truths and falsehoods.