Robert Brand

Editor, journalist to be arrested … or are they?

Was the Sunday Times guilty of crying wolf when it reported that its editor and another journalist would be arrested on charges of contravening the National Health Act? On Sunday, the newspaper reported that editor Mondli Makhanya and deputy managing editor Jocelyn Maker would be arrested this week on charges related to the theft of…

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What’s in a name?

Grahamstown, the city which I call home, is in danger of losing its name. This has been in the pipeline for some time, but the whole thing flared up again when President Mbeki called Colonel John Graham, after whom the town is named, a butcher; and the excellent local newspaper Grocott’s Mail has been running…

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You didn’t get this from me …

Al Neuharth, the founder of USA Today, the United States’s largest newspaper, once remarked that “anonymous sources are the root of all evil in journalism”. That may have been an overstatement, but not by much. In many cases, journalists can’t do their jobs without using anonymous sources; often, however, they are simply an excuse for…

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American journalism isn’t all bad: why I love the New York Times

American journalism has many ills, but the great American newspapers — the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times — remain magnificent examples of the medium. I used to be an Anglophile newspaper reader, starting my day with the Guardian and the Independent, but I hardly ever visit those two sites these…

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Can convergence serve democracy?

After attending a few sessions at the Highway Africa conference in Grahamstown last week, I struggled to find an answer to the question: How will convergence make our democracy better? Discussion about digital media and convergence tends to focus on the medium rather than the message; on the technology of communication rather than the content….

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Let’s dump our ‘foreign, frigid and feelingless’ Bill of Rights

Dali Mpofu, the CEO and “editor-in-chief” of the SABC, has lashed out at members of the South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) for “pretending to be converted to foreign, frigid and feelingless freedoms”. The issue that provoked Mpofu’s outrage was the Sunday Times‘s reliance on the right to freedom of expression in defence of its…

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Curiouser and curiouser …

Curious report just out on Reuters: Johannesburg (Reuters) — South Africa has denied it blamed Britain for Zimbabwe’s isolation in a report prepared for a regional summit earlier this month. The office of President Thabo Mbeki denied that the government produced a report on Zimbabwe critical of Britain before Mbeki briefed leaders of the Southern…

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From the Prophet Muhammad to Manto Tshabalala-Msimang: some thoughts on press freedom

Eighteen months ago, Judge Mohammed Jajbhay ruled that the Prophet Muhammad’s right to privacy outweighed the right to freedom of expression, and interdicted the Sunday Times from publishing cartoons of the prophet. This week, the same judge delivered a ringing endorsement of media freedom, made a decisive statement against censorship, and rejected the health minister’s…

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Let’s not be narrow-minded about broadband

The government’s plan to create a state-controlled company, Infraco, to drive down telecommunication costs and improve broadband internet access has, predictably, come under fire from free marketers. What we need, writes Duncan McLeod in the Financial Mail, is less state interference in the telecommunications sector, not more (read McLeod’s column). This strikes me as a…

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What the Guardian’s journalism tells us about the media … and Thabo Mbeki

“…what this episode tells us is that respected foreign correspondents such as McGreal are willing to believe almost anything about our president.”

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