The importance of being honest

Is blogging journalism? A comment on my last post got me thinking, as I was advised I could be arrested for practising journalism without accreditation.

Now, this is not the first time I’ve heard this. Indeed, one of my colleagues went so far as to call me a journalist because one of my posts ‘resonated’ with him. Yeah, I ranted and raved in response. Bygones.

To answer the question of whether my blogging can be construed (by any stretch of the imagination) as journalism, the answer is an emphatic hell no. Don’t get me wrong, I have practised as a journalist in the past, albeit before the current regulatory framework (which makes it a statutory offence to practice without accreditation) was put in place.

This doesn’t make blogging on rustygate.org journalism. It can be, of course. When actual journalists blog, when they dig for facts, ask the hard questions and take mistakes seriously, then yes journalism can occur on a blog.

The definition of a journalist depends on the activity, not the medium. If you seek factual, contemporary truths for a mass audience, governed by the traditional rules of ethics and integrity, and disseminate these facts through mainstream print or electronic media, then you are, to all intents and purposes, a journalist.

If journalism is by definition the reporting of news in a fair, balanced and accurate way, then my blogging is not journalism. I am opinionated, ranting, often incoherent and frequently biased with little regard for accuracy or balance. I’m working out my own identity, and connecting with like-minded people.

And when my blog does contain bona fide news it is largely derivative, rehashing stories from print journalism and the web at large.

Journalism implies that a disinterested third party is reporting facts fairly. To do that job requires considerable training and the cooperative work of many minds.

So calling anyone who blogs a journalist is like calling anyone who takes a snapshot a photographer.

It is unrealistic to apply the standards of journalism to us, who rarely have the time or resources to source the news, let alone actually report the news.

As Paul Andrews wrote, “… we are stronger and more valuable working outside mainstream media, rather than attempting to mirror the purposes of the insitution we should seek to analyse and supplement.”

To be honest, I have no desire to practise journalism. The hours are terrible, and the pay sucks.

As for blogging? Chicks dig it.

39 Comments

  • Eleanor

    15 April, 2008 at 08:47 am

    You only have to look at the standard (and I use that word very very lightly) of journalism ‘practised’ at the Herald to know it all depends on which side of the opinion line you are standing on. Facts dont seem to trouble the motormouths employed by the government mouthpiece. If a country’s print media is representative of its state of wellbeing then surely all is lost in Zim.

    As for you being incoherent, methinks the gentleman doth protest too much. I will take your incoherent, non-accredited journalistic babble over the state propaganda any day of the week.

  • Joe Black

    15 April, 2008 at 11:38 am

    Rumours say a bus has been burnt in the city center of Harare. Here we go.

  • Galadriel

    15 April, 2008 at 13:28 pm

    JB, you should win a pultzer. You should read the Sun or news of the world. Your description of what journalism isn’t is what these papers are. Very few papers here match the description of a genuine journalist.

  • dhlaks

    15 April, 2008 at 15:04 pm

    hey joe i heard the same rumor… no sounds of mobilisation from this side tho. oh and you were wrong abt SA they are not that good as they so eagerly demontrated against india

  • Tino

    16 April, 2008 at 08:45 am

    What s all this about journalism nhai baba? Are we afraid of getting arrested? Stay strong.

    You could always hop border and come hang out.

  • Joe Black

    16 April, 2008 at 12:02 pm

    Gala thanks, but Pulitzers are for journalists. LOL.

    Dhlaks, my prob is I almost never cross the railway line, so most of it is hearsay. Apparently there was some shit, but you wouldn’t hear about it.

    Tino, save a couch for me sha. Unless you’re now cooking pots with that … guy.

  • The Squire

    16 April, 2008 at 14:41 pm

    Funny u speak of the media today JB, I have been whinning that I cannot remember the last time I heard a radio station except SAFM that does what it meants to eg. play music. When we come to written, back in the days mummy & the miss (i.e. teacher) encourged us to frequently read the paper as it would improve out speech & grammar. The mistakes, bad use of the queens tongue so & so forth that are found to be the norm now-a-days leave me in all but tears. So JB, maybe u should get a licence & write more. At least I can be guaranteed that I am getting what I paid for, a proper story with not too many mistakes……etc etc u feel my flow

  • Joe Black

    16 April, 2008 at 15:33 pm

    Oh Godot, don’t get me started on the so-called ‘music’ channels, Squire.

    Really, do I tune in to 5FM to hear F and Martinengo and Kula and Fresh yacking on and on and on? Sheesh. And what about MTV? What the hell?

    As for papers, yeah the Herald is total shit, but the M&G is still pretty solid. The Star and Sunday Times are below par, but the most disappointing these days are the Independent and Standard.

    I mean, come on guys!

    Okay Squire, so fax me the [putnumberhere] usd and I’ll get registered, lol.

  • Eleanor

    16 April, 2008 at 15:37 pm

    It was Mr Darcy who retorted to Sir Lucas ‘Any savage can dance’. Transferred to the literary world. any idiot with a computer can write. It’s things like loose or lose which really set my teeth on edge. Dictionary anybody?

  • Eleanor

    17 April, 2008 at 08:14 am
  • Joe Black

    17 April, 2008 at 08:18 am

    Oh yeah, the arms shipment. Nothing out of the ordinary, really.

    Except that, you know, someone’s preparing for a fucking war.

  • The Squire

    17 April, 2008 at 08:22 am

    The M&G my friend is ok, if comparing it to a composition on “where I went this holiday” but yes still better than the Star, Sunday Times etc. One will now resort to Scope & Hustler for english lessons! Unrelated it is refreshing to see that the british imperialist through their sources in china have failed in there quest to infiltrate the soverign nation of South Africa with unidentified weapons of destruction which they would have used to de-stabilise the country under the guise of giving freedom to the independent nation of dzimba dzemabwe!

  • Joe Black

    17 April, 2008 at 08:28 am

    http://www.herald.co.zw/inside.aspx?sectid=33352&cat=1

    “MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai approached the British government over the possibility of launching a military offensive to unseat the Government because efforts to depose President Mugabe from within had failed, a top secret Memorandum of Understanding has revealed.”

    Ridiculous and clumsy. Hahahaha. Who makes this shit up?

  • Joe Black

    17 April, 2008 at 12:19 pm

    There are reports that Chinese troops have been spotted in Mutare. Unsubstantiated of course.

    Screw this, I’m going to the pub 🙂

  • Galadriel

    17 April, 2008 at 12:40 pm

    Liquid lunch?

  • Galadriel

    17 April, 2008 at 14:21 pm

    ‘Gutu, Southern Rhodesia (present-day Zimbabwe)’

    The above is how someone has described Morgan Tsvangirai’s hometown. No prizes for guessing what kind of person created the fan page on Facebook. I don’t think I am being unreasonable for preferring it to have been “Zimbabwe” PERIOD. Or if push comes to shove (which it shouldn’t), “Zimbabwe, formerly Southern Rhodesia”. Surely, Zimbabwe has earned the right to be known as “Zimbabwe” without having to insist on the “Southern Rhodesia” angle God dammit! Makes it sound like we be holding on to the “Southern Rhodesia” to give us credibility. That’s just me.

    Happy Independence (of sorts) Day Everybody. So, how are we to celebrate this here joyous occasion in proper Zimbo fashion?

  • Joe Black

    17 April, 2008 at 14:22 pm

    Just kidding. No beer until at least Saturday.

  • Joe Black

    17 April, 2008 at 14:50 pm

    Uhm, Gala, the guy was BORN in Gutu, Southern Rhodesia. The fact is that’s what it was called when he was born. Can’t change that, can’t fudge the facts.

  • Galadriel

    17 April, 2008 at 15:03 pm

    Lol. Ahh, So you tell people you were born in Rhodesia?

  • Eleanor

    17 April, 2008 at 16:38 pm

    What I want to know is what kind of people do you people know that ask that kind of question. It’s like someone asking you about your ZJC results (for those of us old enough to have written them, had them marked and most importantly, had the results released. On time. Which is a far cry from the situation obtaining in ‘present day Zimbabwe’)

  • Galadriel

    17 April, 2008 at 16:42 pm

    Is there such a thing as old day Zim?

  • Eleanor

    17 April, 2008 at 16:48 pm

    The Zim lass is 28 years old tomorrow, so she does have a bit of a history as one does when one nears the big three-oh.

    http://www.news24.com/News24/South_Africa/News/0,,2-7-1442_2307641,00.html

    I want to know, what do they honestly think these are going to be used for. The timing is also a bit suspect, because things like that are not arranged overnight and a ship takes a while to reach its destination. Somebody must have known that they would still be running the show.

  • Eleanor

    17 April, 2008 at 17:27 pm

    As kicks in the teeth go, this must count pretty highly: A news agency report quoted a Somali refugee Mustapha Umar saying: “Life is unbearable in Zimbabwe. We escaped bullets in Somalia only to face starvation in Zimbabwe.”

  • daughterofeve

    18 April, 2008 at 10:56 am

    Ho peeps what about this weapons nyaya??? I mean WTF??
    According to the beeb…..
    “Despite increasing concerns of violence in Zimbabwe, South African officials have said they can do nothing to prevent a Chinese shipment of arms from being delivered to the land-locked country.
    The An Yue Jiang, which is anchored just outside Durban harbour, is reportedly carrying nearly three million rounds of ammunition, about 3,500 mortars, and 1,500 rockets destined for Harare.

    The South African newspaper Beeld said it had a copy of the ship’s cargo inventory which was finalised three day’s after Zimbabwe’s disputed election.”

    I am just praying that somthing can be done before serious bloodshed begins

  • Anonymous

    18 April, 2008 at 12:01 pm

    Its not unusual for Zim to buy weapons. Armies buy weapons all the time. Even the most peaceful countries buy weapons.
    Its only drawing attention now because all eyes on are already on Zim. For all we know the timing is just a coincidence. When other countries buy weapons nobody speculates that they intend to use them on their people.

  • Eleanor

    18 April, 2008 at 12:39 pm

    Anonymous, seriously? Everything about this screams sinister. How can arms be a priority when there is no food, water, electricity, health supplies and equipment. And last I checked, the only war that the army is fighting is againt unarmed civilians. And we know that none of our SADC counterparts are going to launch an invasion while the great uncle draws breath. So why on earth do they need to be armed to the teeth?

    ‘Copies of the documentation for the Chinese ship, the An Yue Jiang, show that the weapons were sent from Beijing to the ministry of defence in Harare. Headed “Dangerous goods description and container packing certificate”, the document was issued on April 1, three days after Zimbabwe’s election. It lists the consignment as including 3.5m rounds of ammunition for AK47 assault rifles and for small arms, 1,500 40mm rockets, 2,500 mortar shells of 60mm and 81mm calibre, as well as 93 cases of mortar tubes.’

    According to the law, there would have been no government in place as it would have been dissolved prior to the elections, so how was such an order authorised?

  • Anonymous

    18 April, 2008 at 14:11 pm

    Should arms be a priority over food?. No
    According to some interpretations the law the executive remains in powe until the winner has been declared.
    In either case i’m not defending the misplaced priorties or justifying whatever legal authority may or may not exist.
    I just think that until we have details of the normal pattern of Zimbabwe arms deals we cannot conlude that these arms have been specificaly purchased to suppress the people.

  • Eleanor

    18 April, 2008 at 14:30 pm

    ‘When other countries buy weapons nobody speculates that they intend to use them on their people. ‘ Maybe it has something to do with the fact that there isnt a litany of incidents which shows heavy-handed government repression at the drop of a hat.

    ‘we cannot conlude that these arms have been specificaly purchased to suppress the people. ‘ It is a reasonable assumption to make based on recent history. What evidence do we have to the contrary? History has a way of repeating itself.

  • Galadriel

    18 April, 2008 at 14:45 pm

    I for one smell a big ass rat. And in these times, I think expecting the worst is the best strategy. And if it is usual to purchase arms, where have the ones purchased last time gone? Is there a war I don’t know about that has been depleting the ammunition? And damn Mbeks for turning a blind eye.

  • Anonymous

    18 April, 2008 at 14:48 pm

    “Maybe it has something to do with the fact that there isnt a litany of incidents which shows heavy-handed government repression at the drop of a hat.” heavy-handed, maybe, but Zim has not certainly not used live ammunition on the people in recent history.

    So based on recent history i would not assume that they have purchased arms to use against the people.
    If history is to repeat itself, they will resort to propagand, intimidation,beating up pple etc without the need for arms, as they have done in the past

  • Eleanor

    18 April, 2008 at 15:00 pm

    I would beg to differ on your assertion about the use of live ammunition, case in point

    http://enoughzimbabwe.org/chamisa-zanu-pf-police-fire-teargas-live-ammunition-at-mdc-supporters/

    http://www.zimbabwesituation.com/jun3_2003.html#link3

    Let us not forget the 20 odd thousand people killed in the ‘moment of madness’ that is Gukurahundi, in case you were looking for some perspective.

  • Eleanor

    18 April, 2008 at 15:04 pm

    Iwe JB, what is your item objecting to on my posting? coz there are no profanities

  • Galadriel

    18 April, 2008 at 15:30 pm

    Again, if ammuitions have not been used recently, why the need to order more? And I don’t remember the last time Zimbabwe was in a situation like this one. When has the president been this threatened and desperate? A first time for everything right?

  • Anonymous

    18 April, 2008 at 18:44 pm

    to think that this could have been a “double” independence celebration…

    so near, but yet so far

  • Eleanor

    18 April, 2008 at 22:59 pm

    A step in the right direction perhaps (somebody must finally have put on their Sandaks)

    http://www.news24.com/News24/South_Africa/News/0,,2-7-1442_2308655,00.html

    So now, we wonder what Maputo’s reaction is going to be.

  • Joe Black

    19 April, 2008 at 03:22 am

    Drunk 3am comment.

    I don’t know what made them use Durban for the first time ever, they usually use Beira for this shit. Apparently, Maputo thought it was fucking unacceptable in the first place, that’s why they refused.

    Oh, and the Mozambique, Zambia and Botswana armed forces are massed at their borders with Zim, if you didn’t know.

    And (allegedly) there may be a full military coup tomorrow (this morning).

    We wait and see.

    BTW: Mannenberg and Kebab Centre rock the big one! Pics to follow 🙂

  • Anonymous

    20 April, 2008 at 22:51 pm

    so where the pics?

  • Joe Black

    21 April, 2008 at 09:49 am

    I’ve decided against posting 🙂

  • Anonymous

    22 April, 2008 at 16:28 pm

    weak