The decision by the editor of the Financial Gazette Trevor Ncube to disclose the names of two Members of Parliament who are reported to have given his reporter Basildon Peta details of who was involved in the Lorac scandal and the subsequent silence of the management of Modus has left a heavy dent on the professionalism of the company particularly because they are now producing a daily paper and will need more information that will inevitably have to come from sources who may wish to remain anonymous.
The disclosure has been condemned by various media institutions and even by the journalists’ union. That sounds well and fine but without condoning the disclosure, as it was morally and ethically wrong and damaging to the profession, it also exposed the kind of calibre of journalists we have today as well as newspapers owners of the present. It may be well to condemn the disclosure but what could the journalists’ union have done, say for example, if the employer had told the journalists they would be fired if they did not disclosure the names?
While it was ethically wrong, and should be abhorred, one question that must be asked is that in these days of ESAP what did those journalists have to fall back on? This, of course should not be an excuse but it is now time that journalists started addressing this issue.
There has been talk about establishing a Media Institute of Southern Africa to protect journalists, and even if it has already been set up, how many journalists know about it? Who has it helped so far? journalists like Willie Musarurwa, and Geoff Nyarota left, or were fired from, their jobs because they wanted to preserve these ethics. Did they get any help from the journalists union? Did the union even try to find out how they survived? If not what option is there for a poor, young journalist without much experience to talk about?
Perhaps, the big question should be whether there is really a journalists’ union, and if it is there, is it functioning?