I have no idea where everybody gets the idea that the media is a huge monster that you should not associate yourself with and is out to ruin your reputation. What I do know is that it is not true. I will never get used to hearing that “oh”, which is often followed by awkward silence each time I tell people that I am a journalist. People tend to retreat and either say less or carefully choose their words and give calculated, brief answers or contributions to any questions asked when you are within earshot.
Yet we quickly grab newspapers and watch the news on television with intrigue and belief. The media is not “out to get” anyone! As a matter of fact, the media is on your side! They tell the stories that you are not brave enough to disclose. They take the punch that corporates and politicians would have aimed at you and cushion you from unfair practice. If anything, the media is your mouthpiece.
This year, with Covid-19 in the mix and corruption under a microscope, there was a clear picture of what journalists and reporters go through to get accurate, reliable information and the consequences and treatment that comes with bringing people in power to book. We have seen the hassle that comes with simply trying to access information, information which would not come to light without these brave compatriots.
It is sad that communities have a lack of trust in the media, and that makes it even more difficult to represent them. Having been on the ground countless times trying to engage the man on the street, it is discouraging that you retreat at the sight of a media card when all we are trying to do is bring your concerns to light.
What a year it has been for the media landscape. Gone are the days when we would report from a telephone or e-mail. It is more about engaging stakeholders such as the community and coming down to the root of things. It is more so about digging up untold stories and giving a voice to those silenced by money, reputation, tradition and society. It is about holding hands in a bid and pledge to stand by what is true and just and presenting the facts straight from the source.
Media freedom is also not just about writing undesirable truths. It is about being able to engage community members and source their truths. The media and society would be fighting a losing battle if they are working against each other. Don’t get it twisted, the media will tell it all as it is, no sugar-coating, and there wouldn’t need to be any sugar-coating if we played by the rules, but better yet, the media does not exist to portray the bad and the ugly.
Matter of fact, the media loves a good success story and comprises of bodies that can celebrate and highlight local successes, and the only way that can be achieved is if the communities share these great stories. Nobody is prohibited from sharing their news or story with the media and of course we would need to fact-check and confirm but being available to listen and encouraging you to share already says a lot about what team these colleagues are playing for.
The media already goes through a lot and need your trust now more than ever. We need you to tell us your side of the story and we need you to be honest in your recount of the story. [email protected]