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Ethics and excuses: the scapegoating of Vusi Mona Guy Berger September 2004.

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Presentation on theme: "Ethics and excuses: the scapegoating of Vusi Mona Guy Berger September 2004."— Presentation transcript:

1 Ethics and excuses: the scapegoating of Vusi Mona Guy Berger September 2004

2 Abstract: Vusi Mona – epitomy of sins Cavalier  Hypocritical  Prejudiced  Personal agenda  Amateurish  Dishonest  Violated confidentiality  Had conflict of interests 

3 Abstract  Media avoided self-questioning about similar problems, deeper issues.  To do with ethics and therefore about choices made and decisions taken.  Confirming that media is unwilling and unable to crit itself?

4 1. INTRO: where it begins  Ngcuka investigates Zuma and Maharaj   Mona’s City Press publishes spy allegations against Ngcuka

5 Story develops…  Mbeki appoints Hefer Inquiry 

6 Outcomes  Hefer exonerates Ngcuka, exposes Mona as problematic   Sanef condemns Mona.

7 Sanef seal of condemnation  Shocked, worried on Mona breaking confidentiality  Distance selves from any journalist testifying  We can’t compromise credibility  Vusi Mona has breached ethical code Henry Jeffreys, Sanef Chair

8 Others too…

9 3 issues test journ ethics Motives Confidential briefings Testifying  Choices  decisions  sad chapter


11 Media actors & players  Not all players shimmering halo  But all except Mona unscathed: Ranjeni Munusamy Vusi Mona & City Press team Mathatha Tsedu & Sunday Times The Star and others?

12 2.1 Munusamy’s motives  Strong step to give story to CP:

13 Munusamy’s motives More than journalistic rationale? She denies unconvincingly.

14 How others saw her

15 2.2 Suspicions re: Tsedu  Tsedu & Sunday Times: Close to/influenced?

16 2.3 Mona’s morality  Mona & City Press team:

17 Disgust with Ngcuka?

18 Disgust?

19 Simple fairness?

20 Or another personal motive?

21 Revenge against Ngcuka?

22 Distinguish two issues  Mona – revenge in regard to: Breaking confidence of briefing Publishing the story.

23 Fight back, plots thicken  Mona accuses The Star of agendas

24 Other factors …  Mona – simply competitive?  His colleagues favoured publication

25 Significance  Mona got the blame, but whole drama and its cast led to:  Qtns of and others’ motives  = discrediting of media for agendas?  = boosts conspiracy theorists re: media?  This issue underplayed in media

26 3. CONFIDENTIAL BRIEF  Independence is one issue;  Who takes part is another;  Keeping to commitment  Theorising exceptions  Expediency on OTR interpretation

27 Independence  Participants shd keep perspective:  BUT: both Mona & Tsedu wrote favourable editorials afterwards.

28 Handpicked division  All 7 editors condoned selectivity.

29 Leaking  Others published: Gleason, Mbhele  Mona alone was judged (as a journo)

30 Other issues  Media silence on secrecy ethics vs externalities like Constitutional rights and public interest.  Off-the-record expediently interpreted by Tsedu, Rantao

31 But only Mona takes the rap

32 4. TESTIFYING  Historical principle: we don’t testify.

33 Double standards  Mona judged for violating this, but Munusamy encouraged to violate it!  Mona judged as journalist, Munusamy exempted as non-journo.  Irony: Mona baulks on sources.

34 “Heresies” galore  Poor exploration of possible precedent.

35 5. MEDIA DISCOURSE:  Mona “rat” was an easy target: doublespeak contradictions sloppy Happy using Niewoudt as a source devious extemporising inconsistent conflict-of-interest inept elusive

36 Scapegoat  Problem was not hitting him, but eclipsing a broader malaise.

37 Made to admit his sins

38 Sweeping statements

39 His impact is exaggerated

40 The individual exception …  i.e Media innocent, just tarnished

41 And so he went

42 CONCLUSION  Motives of Mona … and the others  Confidential Briefing – a host of problems and questions  Testifying in Commission …inconsistent responses, lack of interrogation of precedents.  Discourse of institutional innocence.

43 Taking stock  Mona got what he deserved  But lack of wider soul-searching  Result: Dubious journalism unaddressed Problem children rehabilitated

44 Political significance  No discussion on media’s role in fierce political battles and what Hefer experience portends for futures.

45 Online at: THANK YOU

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