Zahira Kharsany
Zahira Kharsany

Young black journalist in confusion

Sitting in the forum held by the South African Human Rights Council (HRC) regarding recent issues regarding the Forum of Black Journalists (FBJ) and its subsequent fight with Talk Radio 702, I wondered whether anyone really understood the matter at hand.

The fighting between the two over spilled into an attack on each other’s character: punches thrown (figuratively), blood shed and, in the end, no sign of the issue at hand.

Sure, 702 had a right to file a complaint about the racially exclusive manner of the FBJ; sure, the FBJ had in return every right to have its voice heard, but the slander on character I really could not understand.

I, for one, am all for the FBJ. Yes, go have a forum for black journalists; yes, go do good; but yes, (damn it) open your doors to whoever wants to attend so that you can all work together to improve the stature of black journalists. The FBJ’s exclusionary policy is ineffective and maybe even detrimental to the upliftment of black journalists in the long run.

I’m a young journalist, and the slanging match did nothing but make me feel as if I was let down. My idea that unity helps to bridge what has happened in the past now seems to be a false and utopian hope. I sat there in bewilderment; I watched people who made me believe so strongly in wanting to be a journalist degrade each other, and I wondered if I had indeed chosen the right profession.

Journalism for me is to report on the truth and to have a voice for those who do not have one — and to act as the fourth estate. (Right?!)

But when you hear that a certain group of media powerfuls had a closed meeting with one of the most influential people in South Africa, African National Congress president Jacob Zuma, it makes me wonder if there was, in fact, an ulterior motive. Sure, nothing may have been said or done, but the fact that the FBJ excluded others from such a luncheon will make any conspiracy theorist wonder what the truth is.

Or am I a little delusional?

Anyway, now that the ball is in the HRC’s court (so to speak) we will see what happens.

Here’s a full recap on events …

How it started:
Storm brews over journalists’ forum
Why the FBJ exists (comment piece)
Racism and the media: ‘We’re not out of the woods’
Questioning division

Read Ferial Haffajee’s piece in the M&G
Change starts at home

Yesterday’s round-up:

Don’t cry no tears, FBJ tells 702

What fellow bloggers have to say:
Coconuts, racism and SABC politics (Nice piece, though I have to argue that he mentioned the Black Lawyers’ Forum — which does not have exclusionary policies as long as people joining in contribute to the betterment of black lawyers.)
Racist South Africans retreat to apart-hate
Furore over FBJ and its coconut journalists