[Written By: Kagiso Mnisi]
A recent furore had a listener wrangled in a BBCSA involved spat with Gagasi FM where the argument was that an incorrect statement attributed to her in a newspaper was repeated on air by the Respondent broadcaster. The statement concerned the parole of a person who had, inter alia, by way of negligent driving caused bodily injuries to the Complainant. The complaint which involved the Afternoon Showoff presenters Thandolwethu Strydom and Trevor Phillips, begged the most obvious question: do radio producers/presenters do the necessary legwork to verify information or just read whatever is on script?
Stirs of this nature are not at all new in the local media space. One can remember the widely publicised incident of provacateur David Bullard vs. The Sunday Times http://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/David-Bullard-lays-charges-over-axing-20120413, where a column he had written was seen as contentious and racist. But what irked the most in this case was the lack of oversight by editorial. Why did the column see the light of day in the first place? The same concern should be appropriated to Gagasi FM’s Afternoon Showoff team for its lack of thorough fact during its feature.
Far abroad conservative shock-jock, Rush Limbaugh, has been caught foot in mouth when he described 30 year old law student, Sandra Fluke, as a “slut” and a “prostitute” on his show. This came after Fluke had appeared before Washington lawmakers to explain why her university ought to offer free contraception under its student health insurance plan. Limbaugh’s hot air comment has seen revenue drop of $5.6m (£3.6m) in the first quarter of 2013 compared to the previous year on stations that his show is syndicated. The controversy has put to question whether shock-jocks are a slowly dying breed.
Contemporary radio has come to rely on secondary sources for content but that does not warrant lackluster on its part. Just as in print, radio practitioners should go direct and make sure that announcements are sound and true. Given that the majority of people listen to radio more than they consume other forms of media, the airwaves should frontline the cause for truthful probing.