Presentation on theme: "Ethics and excuses: the scapegoating of Vusi Mona Guy Berger September 2004."— Presentation transcript:
Ethics and excuses: the scapegoating of Vusi Mona Guy Berger September 2004
Abstract: Vusi Mona – epitomy of sins Cavalier Hypocritical Prejudiced Personal agenda Amateurish Dishonest Violated confidentiality Had conflict of interests
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?
1. INTRO: where it begins Ngcuka investigates Zuma and Maharaj Mona’s City Press publishes spy allegations against Ngcuka
Story develops… Mbeki appoints Hefer Inquiry
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
3 issues test journ ethics Motives Confidential briefings Testifying Choices decisions sad chapter
2. MOTIVES & AGENDAS
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 e.tv and others?
2.1 Munusamy’s motives Strong step to give story to CP:
Munusamy’s motives More than journalistic rationale? She denies unconvincingly.
Distinguish two issues Mona – revenge in regard to: Breaking confidence of briefing Publishing the story.
Fight back, plots thicken Mona accuses The Star of agendas
Other factors … Mona – simply competitive? His colleagues favoured publication
Significance Mona got the blame, but whole drama and its cast led to: Qtns of e.tv and others’ motives = discrediting of media for agendas? = boosts conspiracy theorists re: media? This issue underplayed in media
3. CONFIDENTIAL BRIEF Independence is one issue; Who takes part is another; Keeping to commitment Theorising exceptions Expediency on OTR interpretation
Independence Participants shd keep perspective: BUT: both Mona & Tsedu wrote favourable editorials afterwards.
Handpicked division All 7 editors condoned selectivity.
Leaking Others published: Gleason, Mbhele Mona alone was judged (as a journo)
Other issues Media silence on secrecy ethics vs externalities like Constitutional rights and public interest. Off-the-record expediently interpreted by Tsedu, Rantao
But only Mona takes the rap
4. TESTIFYING Historical principle: we don’t testify.
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.
“Heresies” galore Poor exploration of possible precedent.
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
Scapegoat Problem was not hitting him, but eclipsing a broader malaise.
Made to admit his sins
His impact is exaggerated
The individual exception … i.e Media innocent, just tarnished
And so he went
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.
Taking stock Mona got what he deserved But lack of wider soul-searching Result: Dubious journalism unaddressed Problem children rehabilitated
Political significance No discussion on media’s role in fierce political battles and what Hefer experience portends for futures.