The pen is mightier than the sword

Should publications not be completely free in the way it wants to report?


If you are on the horns of a dilemma, you have to choose between two things, both of which are unpleasant or difficult.
COBUILD Advanced English Dictionary. Copyright © HarperCollins Publishers
Journalists have an indispensable role in democracy and especially in the RSA.
Without all the information that is assembled in printed font in local and or national newspapers, nothing would come of our rule of law.
For this reason, the press has the highest right to freedom of expression, but what if this mien goes wrong or is interpreted as being heartless, not ethical, etcetera?
It is therefore sometimes aptly named “The Watchdog of Society.”
She ensures that the reading public is informed with regard to politician’s doing what their hearts desire, companies cannot just do anything and everything, never mind consequences?
And above all that the citizens can make their voices heard.
The “Watchdog” makes all this possible.
Should publications not be completely free in the way it wants to report? Even when reporting chilling effects and/or incidences?
But what if the reporting aggrieves the allegedly aggrieved and wronged people?
Is the freedom this “watchdog” has big enough to make and cover all the mistakes in reporting, under a warm mantle of freedom and opinions?
Were the five core principals of journalism transgressed in the lead story of the reported murder in the Bulletin’s account?
• Truth and Accuracy
• Independence
• Fairness and Impartiality
• Humanity
• Accountability
A sure sign of professionalism and responsible journalism is surely the ability to hold themselves accountable when they commit errors, they must correct them, and their expressions of regret must be sincere not cynical. They must listen to the concerns of their audience. They may never not change what the readers write or say but will always provide remedies when they have been unfair.
The point is that journalists do not require special permission, but should handle all people with dignity – even if we disagree profusely regarding politics, faith, way of living and/or opinions.
When we differ or are of the opinion that we have been attacked personally, how do we react? Do we play the man and not the ball? How would we prefer to be confronted when someone disagrees with us?

  • Aart Reedijk


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