“How Independent is Independent Media?” James Myburgh asked last month. As an erstwhile regular letter-writer to the Cape Times I sometimes thought I was becoming over-exposed or even narcissistic, but the Cape Times editor solved that for me by ceasing to print my letters which were generally critical of the ANC and latterly the Cape Times itself for its version of journalism and the shortcomings of its journalists.
The former referring to its dangerous whipping up of anti-white sentiment, its obsession with Israel and elevation of BDS and any mini-group with a poisonous attitude in that respect, its mindless attacks on UCT to the eventual detriment of even the unemployable dung-bunging anarchists it championed, and the latter referring to Carlo Petersen who led the charge against UCT, and group foreign editor Shannon Ebrahim, whose main sources of information on world affairs seem to be the Media Review Network, a Muslim Israel-hate bunch, and BDS best known for dragging a pigs head through Woolworths, pulling in 100 instead of 10 000 to protest against the well received Pharrel Williams concert, violent and anti-Semitic disruption of concerts featuring anyone they deemed to be less than correct in their attitude to Israel and the usual mixture of arrogance and lies usually associated with frustrated self-deluded organisations with consistent records of failure.
The Cape Times is being run as an pseudo-parastatal. Its purchase by Sekunjalo was financed by the Public Investment Corporation whose chief investment officer Daniel Motjila recently said: “The corporation plans to align its investment strategy with the government’s policies”, which couldn't be much clearer.
After what can only be described as a purge, its management and senior journalist staff were replaced with individuals more willing to further the aims of the ANC in the Western Cape; notably to slander Israel, generate racial intolerance, give a platform to every Tom Dick and Harry who has a beef against the DA administration, and to report every nonsensical word uttered by the ANC Western Cape leaders, in the forlorn hope that the Muslim constituency will support the ANC in the next elections, notwithstanding that it appears to have more sense than that.
The Cape Times congratulates itself not only in being in the forefront of university protest which in all likelihood will be looked back upon as destructive as was “No education before Liberation”, but also for the same disease reaching Oxford. But here is what Trevor Phillips, former Chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (who is black which shouldn't matter but of course does) had to say:
“Perhaps the students who support this campaign might take a moment to google ‘Auschwitz’ to see a complete justification for the preservation of all aspects of the historical record, however grim.The looming tragedy is that Oriel College is not alone among academic institutions. It appears many are now so cowed by fear being labelled racist that they are prepared to sacrifice fundamental principles for fashionable approval. Even the decision to consult on the issue is a shameful retreat from the defence of freedom of expression.”
I recently placed an order for a paid display advertisement to address journalists’ misrepresentations clearly endorsed by management; in particular yet another rabble rousing article article about UCT and another where the journalist was fed a story by the Media Review Networks and BDS and stated that she had seen a letter from the Hawks confirming an intention to arrest Israelis; a letter that did not exist.
Needless to say the advertisement (paraphrased below) , was declined by higher management:
CAPE TIMES' JOURNALISTIC STANDARDS SLAMMED
22 December 2015
Over the recent months I have come to the conclusion that not only does the Cape Times portray events to fit its agenda but its editorial staff doesn't even know it is doing it. Either that or its responses to criticism are examples of masterful obfuscation.
Take your senior reporter's lengthy and rambling reply to UCT's clear letter pointing out his distinct factual errors and the misrepresentation contained in the lead-in to the original article "UCT student's graduation hopes dashed" .
It appears that the student for all intents and purposes had attained his degree but was merely not entitled to attend the ceremony, to which Carlo Petersen (journalist) disingenuously responded "there is nothing in the article which suggests that his qualification will be withheld". Oh really! So what does "UCT student's graduation hopes dashed" suggest? That arrogant reply is more reprehensible than the original misrepresentation.
As another example when the observation was made in an unpublished letter that a flamboyant front page story about arresting Israelis clearly had no legs since there had been no follow up, the Editor Aneez Salie replied to say that there had been one. But his understanding of a "follow up" was a simple repetition of the same allegations, and not what is usually understood by journalists as a follow-up, being "a subsequent piece containing new facts supporting and/or elaborating on the early piece"
Naturally you will repeat the same behaviour again and again if you are unaware that what you are doing is wrong, are in denial of it or are purposely doing it.
Sydney Kaye, Cape Town
The answer to the original question is that while the Cape Times may be independent of the ANC from a legal point of view, its editors are clearly not independent of its proprietor, and do not have to be told what Number One wants; like a microcosm of the ANC they know it only too well (and also where the door is).
Strong brands like “The Cape Times” take time to destroy. It was given the benefit of the doubt by many readers who wanted to believe that although it was widening the range of opinion it offered it would remain a must-have newspaper. Concern led to denial and finally to acceptance. The Cape Times is in reach of its goal of preaching only to the converted, at which point it will simultaneously lose the final remnants of the universal influence it once had.