Published 19 October 2018, by Dr Iqbal Survé
Tiso Blackstar’s Business Day could by all accounts be considered irrelevant due to its small daily circulation of approximately 20 000 nationally.
It is therefore easy to dismiss Business Day’s rantings and media manipulation as insignificant especially when compared to the reach of Business Report (BR) in the Independent Media stable, which has more than 1.5 million daily readers.
Why then would I write this opinion piece? Well, Tiso Blackstar and its Sunday publication, Sunday Times have recently been under the spotlight, especially after its editor, Bongani Siqoko, bravely apologised for their shameful violation of the press code and media manipulation on several matters including the so-called SARS “rogue unit”.
Subsequently three prominent journalists were named, including the editor of the Financial Mail, Rob Rose, who, it has been hinted, was either paid or manipulated, to write negative stories. This manipulation and fake news presented by Sunday Times, Financial Mail and Business Day can be regarded as part of a deep rotten culture.
Evidence of Tiso Blackstar’s hypocrisy is clear to see beyond the Sunday Times’s well reported accusations and manipulations. The Steinhoff debacle, for instance, is reported but covered with kid gloves by Tiso Blackstar and Business Day.
If anything, it is reported with a deferential attitude to the individuals involved. A second example is their reporting on the South African Post Office, which in its last financial year lost R978 million. Now if the Post Office was run by a black executive it would most certainly have been headlined with article after article screaming about the incompetence of the executive in charge.
A different standard is applied to white companies as opposed to black companies.
Reporting on white companies is always qualified with an excuse, while black companies are treated with contempt, disdain and suspicion. Let’s look at Tiso Blackstar. Formerly Johnnic and Times Media Group, it proved to be a task beyond even (now President) Cyril Ramaphosa and Tokyo Sexwale to transform this business.
In the case of Mvelaphanda, these businesses cost them billions and the current management and journalists have overseen the destruction of shareholder value, including a PIC loss of R7bn a few years ago. None of this is reported on by Business Day.
Perhaps it is because, according to well-placed sources at Tiso Blackstar, white management and journalists are paid more and given bonuses at the expense of black journalists. Business Day has a particular way of portraying black executives and black companies.
As an example, for many months, Business Day ran frontpage headlines about the PIC’s CEO, Dr Dan Matjila, who was allegedly in a romantic relationship with a woman called Pretty Louw despite Dr Matjila going on record in parliament denying any relationship.
Yet Business Day journalist, Carol Paton, rehashed this repeatedly in the Goebbels tradition of propaganda, revealing her bias towards a faction that wants Matjila removed for their own nefarious purposes. The recent Budlender report found unequivocally that Dr Matjila did not have a romantic or inappropriate relationship with Ms Louw.
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