Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Leaving aside for the moment the reasons why people might want to implicate Bulelani Ngcuka in an apartheid era spy ring something else interests me about the Ranjeni Munusamy case. In an era when potentially anyone with access to a computer is a journalist (witness Southern Cross) what right do 'real' i.e. print and TV journalists have to smear the name of an individual and then plead 'journalistic ethics' as a reason not to reveal the source of their information. Of course, I understand the need to protect sources in order to encourage whistleblowers to come forward but as the internet de-centralises journalism, these types of questions become more and more pertinent. Lets assume that Southern Cross achieves a daily readership in the thousands (this is small beer in comparison to the hundreds of thousands of daily hits that the big American bloggers get) we could destroy an individuals reputation by implying something about their past or their character and then claim that our journalistic integrity prevents us from revealing our sources. At the very least in cases where the only evidence is a single unnamed source and the allegation has potentially serious consequences, the journalist should either have to reveal the source or be prepared to suffer the consequences. Or corroborate the allegations through other sources.

Returning to the big question though, who has an interest in smearing the good name of Bulelani Ngcuka? Ahem, step forward Mr Deputy President...

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