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THE story of politics, journalists and the media in general is a very complex and complicated one.
However, I am perturbed by the silence exhibited by my erstwhile colleagues in the media following claims that some journalists are sleeping with politicians to get information and others are receiving brown envelopes.
The silence from the Fourth Estate gives credence to the claims that journalists are being used as political pawns, therefore tarnishing the image, integrity and credibility of the media as the watchdogs of society.
It is true that politicians invite the media into their lives and enjoy hogging headlines as long as the story is positive and constructive. But when the story is negative and destructive, politicians exhibit hatred for the media and journalists.
Quizzed about his lavish lifestyle and accumulation of wealth in what was to be termed Malemagate, ANC Youth League president Julius Malema charged on journalists.
Like a stray dog being chased by boys and with nowhere to hide, he turned the tables: "You are receiving brown envelopes. You think we don't know you are being bribed? We know you. We know people who are giving you money, and we know some of you (here) are sleeping with politicians. We know of these journalists who are against us and get their information in brown envelopes.
"We are not going to name names. It's for our own intelligence purpose. We use it to make an assessment of objective conditions," Malema retorted.
Though the claim or rather the revelation was reported, the muted silence from members of the Fourth Estate is of grave concern.
Yet the media seem to want to pretend that these words were never uttered.
Malema is now suffering from public credibility due to what is now commonly called "tenderpreneurship". So is the media, its credibility and integrity is in tatters.
Allegations or claims against people whose role is to mirror the society need serious investigation and turning a blind eye or a deaf ear to them will not help the cause. These claims need to be tested and proven. We cannot pretend that Malema did not make such a telling statement.
As much as it is newsworthy and in the public interest to know how Malema amassed his millions, it is equally newsworthy and in the public interest to expose charlatans masquerading as journalists while they receive kickbacks and sleep with politicians to access confidential information.
It is not anyone's terrain to choose who sleeps with whom, or which journalist gets involved with which politician, or which politician gets involved with which journalist, but when things are being done to settle political scores, journalistic ethics and embedded journalism comes into question.
As a former journalist I am ashamed that my erstwhile colleagues, editors and journalists alike, seem determined to sweep the matter under the carpet. We cannot allow the credibility and integrity of the media to be eroded. Public trust will slowly but surely diminish.
The shameful and scandalous silence is a clear indication that there's no smoke without fire.
lThw writer is a former journalist. He is now a government communicator and a media trainer attached to the Sol Plaatje Institute for Media Leadership at Rhodes University in Grahamstown