Reporters and slow minds

Reporters and slow minds

UNCLE Tom’s government
has barely gathered its
spanners, but fear-mongers
have already jumped into action
with zest.
The shrieking battalion has fl ed
the madhouse and bedlam has ensued.
So here we are again, playing a
game we have always played: deciphering
when the new concoction
of a government will land on its
head.
We wait to hear the boom. The
pessimists are gathering shovels
and picks to dig the government’s
grave.
Coalition governments, as history
has shown, are a boon for gamblers.
There is money to be made
in predicting their fall.

They will trudge on for a few months, crawl for a few more
weeks before they kick the bucket. As normally happens in the first few months the debate about the
stability of the government is emotive. Some swear its death is near while others think a little bit of tweaking plus some cajoling will
hold the thing together for a few months. In the absence of substantial political thought and research the debate is soon hijacked by
small minds plugged to garrulous mouths. Soothsayers and gossipers
thrive on the unproven.

They are joined in the fray by political analysts, if we are charitable enough to label them that, who perambulate the corridors of
our pathetic newspapers as they hawk their mundane perspectives.

There they have found the notoriously pliable reporters ready to
gobble their words.
Muckraker is sick to the back
teeth with the proud empty-heads
in our newsrooms.
A moron opens his mouth and
our impulsive reporters think they
have stumbled upon a treasure
trove of scoops and illuminating
ideas. Those who insist on masquerading
as political reporters
are the most naïve
because they remain adamant in
dabbling in a subject about which
they know zilch.
At the core of their juvenile exuberance
is their refusal to read.
Yeh, I said it! Reporters have
long declared a war on books. Does
Muckraker hear some muffed
sound of protest from our newsrooms?
Hold your horses comrades for
this girl from Qacha knows almost
every reporter in this country.
If she doesn’t know you then you
are a nonentity or a new entrant
yet to write anything substantial.
So when Muckraker says reporters
are playing hide and seek with
books those with whom she has
brushed shoulders should scramble
for cover.
Those who dare raise a fi nger
are inviting a stick upon their tender
bums.
Muckraker will spare the rod if
they bring irrefutable proof of the
last book they read, at least since
the beginning of this year.
So far there is no evidence that
our reporters are reading, even
Mills and Boons.
Hence they keep foisting gobbledegook
on readers, hoping somewhere
in the tosh the poor souls
will fi nd something sensible.
The oracles and so-called political
analysts keep dumping their
tosh in newspapers, knowing well
that the dunderheads called reporters
will convey it to the readers
without a blink.
That is how we have been rolling
for decades.
So and so, a political analyst,
says blah, blah, blah and
blah. Political commentator
so and so has said nyoe, nyoe, nyoe
and nyoe.
What gets Muckraker’s goat is
that almost every story quoting
political analysts inevitably becomes
a ramble and rubble.
The ideas from the chatterboxes
are scattered across acres of newspaper
spaces with little or no intervention
from the reporter, who
in most cases is haplessly mesmerised
to hear mundane ideas
couched in academic language.
Muckraker has since stopped
reading such stories for several
reasons.
They are a waste of precious
time. After she fi nishes reading
them she gets a running tummy
and a pounding headache.
The other reasons are more
about the writers and the analysts.
Because Muckraker knows most
of the reporters she can imagine
how they will be behaving as they
listen to the analysts.
As she reads the winding story
Muckraker has a picture of the reporter
nodding like he is listening
to House music.
And that is what really messes
up Muckraker’s mood because
the headshaking does not seem to
shake the brain from its slumber.
The analyst is allowed to talk
his voice hoarse as the reporter
marvels.
With the help of some mouthfuls
of something intoxicating to numb
the mind to the bunkum overfl owing
on the pages, you get to the end
of the story.
That does not mean after going
through the tortuous story you
are any wiser than you were before
your audacious jaunt into the
story.
When feeling lazy — a prevalent
feeling in the newsrooms — the
reporters smack readers with long
interviews in which they ask kindergarten
questions.
As if on cue the reporter almost
always opens the interview by asking
the interviewee to take “us”
through some “history” or “process”.
There follows a narration of
events already known to even
monkeys, rats and stray dogs.
The ‘so what’ question is never
answered because reporters think
their business is to be conveyor
belts.
Microphones that have no business
analysing the message. Anyone
who tries to put things into
context is accused of editorialising. By now you might have noticed
that Muckraker has
called them reporters and
not journalists.
There is a difference here and
it is not as subtle as some might
think. George Snell, a respected
American media commentator,
put it aptly in a December 2009
article.
He says reporters announce
things while journalists get beneath
the news.
“It’s investigation, analysis and
thoughtful commentary. It’s indepth
expository reporting,” he
says of journalism.
To illustrate this point, he uses
an example of a story of a plane
crash. A reporter, he says, will announce
the accident and maybe
tell you about the fatalities.
A journalist however will tell
you how the accident happened
and what could have caused it.
He will probably tell you that
some routine maintenance on
the plane were skipped or some
mechanical issues were ignored
and maybe that the pilot lacked
adequate training. What we have
teeming in our newsrooms are reporters
and bad ones in most cases.
Unable to scratch beneath the surface
and put things into perspective
they busy themselves with
trawling Facebook and Tweeter
for news tips which they pass on
to the reader without much intervention.
They hunt in packs like jackals.
Now that Muckraker has exclaimed
the difference between a
journalist and a reporter, she patiently
waits for any reporter to
claim to be a journalist.

Be brave comrades. The Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) is shedding crimson tears over its
recent loss.

It wants the High Court to confi
rm that there was some monkey
business in some constituencies.
The party has a right to gallop
to the Palace of Justice and Muckraker
will not minimise its grievances.
If indeed there was some
chicanery the courts should make
a ruling.
What Muckraker is yet to fathom
is what the party hopes to
achieve from the court case. It’s a
case fraught with landmines for
the LCD.
If the court fi nds that there were
some shenanigans there will be a
reelection. The problem though is
that the LCD has no chance in hell
of winning those constituencies.
If the LCD loses the new election
it will come across as a lousy crybaby
adamantly refusing to accept
that it has lost fair and square.
If the court fi nds no evidence of
fraud the party will have egg on its
face. It will be seen, and rightly so,
as a sore loser.
Muckraker will tell you without
fear of favour that the LCD is politically
fi nished.

Its leaders might fi ght tooth and nail to disprove that assessment
but the numbers don’t lie. The party has been on a slippery slope for the past decade. It is speeding towards its expiry
date.
Sadly the leaders and their zealots
are too confused to see this obvious
trend.
They would not notice a dying
party even if it hits them in the
face.
The LCD is under a bus but its
leaders think the party is driving
the bus. Phew!

muckraker.post@gmail.com
A woman casting her vote

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