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Friday, July 27, 2012

South African entertainment reporters are vindictive, aggressive and demolishing


It bewilders me to hear that South African entertainment reporters are termed as vindictive, aggressive and demolishing, as if there are no good reporters alive. It came rather as thoughtful when an industry friend told me that he does not entertain entertainment reporters nor read negative news content for the mere fact that they are only here to destroy the industry that they nurtured for years. How do you feel as a reporter to hear such about the work that you do? I felt so defeated knowing that this is true.  


Now the prime question becomes how do we then set the tone in our stories so that we don’t sound vindictive? I am of the opinion that it is not about entertainment writers but the influence of the statistics of a negative v. A positive tone or rather language selection in the article. How do you then as a reporter argue your point with your editor when they say your positive articles lack numbers v. Your vindictive tone articles? After all the media works with sales and statistics in order to achieve sales which will result in profit making.



So now it takes us to profit v. Destroying someones career, I mean we all know how powerful the media is, to such an extent that one may lose all their endorsements or gain more sponsors should we write in a  bad or good flavor about them. The numbers also show that a typical South African prefers bad written news compared to positive news. Editors are fully aware that negative news drag traffic to any given online publication and that makes them and advertisers happy, which means good business regardless who’s suffering.


Criticism is very important especially when honesty and encouraging criticism is put into place. So what about those reporters who criticize to destruct careers? Don’t we perhaps criticize to see adorable results? We need the old-fashioned crop of writers who knew how to powerfully criticize craft to such an extent the then artists are still enjoyed today. 


I also urge entertainers to carry themselves in a dignified manner and act responsibly to avoid unnecessary attacks from the reporters of mass destruction. Should this happen, well, negative stories will be scarce. How would you feel if you as a reporter your mother was being reported about ugly? I learnt during my studies that before you write about someone put a picture of your mother and ask yourself a question, ‘If this was my mother was I going to write this story?’ If the answer is no, then you know how is the child of that story subject is going to feel like.


But I personally think if we as entertainment reporters can use language effectively, well, we can achieve the required results with good stories too. We need to know which words touch the reader’s emotions and their way of acting in a certain story, bearing in mind we only give readers what to think about, therefore we cannot account for their actions. We need to adapt the style of copywriters in our stories in order to stand out in our reportage. We need to treat our stories as not just stories but craft.


There’s a perception that even entertainment reporters fail to distinguish that we treated or sighted as gossipers or rather hogwash writers. There’s a clear distinction between an entertainment critic and a paparazzi, these two should not be confused. Paparazzi (Photojournalist) is regarded as rude, pushy and ignorant. They invade personal space, and have set foot in a Court of law numerous times. They will go at any lengths to get a naked photograph of a celebrity with photo-lens camera on private property, invasion of privacy. So I beg to differ, an entertainment reporter should not position him/herself as such, your job is merely to report entertainment news and not destroy people’s careers.


There’s a struggle in the process of news gathering, when I say that I am talking about the pressures that amount in the newsrooms. A lot is happening beyond what we see on the papers or online news that we read. How many times have you argued about facts being eliminated in a story? And the reporter says, “It was the editor, I sent the story as it was…” These are things we have no control over, I mean every medium has personal agendas to push. So being an employee puts you in no position to go against the wishes of your employer. 


Due to the reputation of entertainment reporters like Shwashwi being a nuisance, we are all being treated under the same umbrella. Trust me this is going to make it difficult for entertainment reporters to even accumulate interviews because celebrities will be reluctant. I remember requesting an interview from Bongani Fassie and he told me he cannot give it to me because we (media) have twisted his words in our stories. This goes further to respecting your subjects and your job.


Reporters who do not respect their news subjects makes it hard for all of us in the process of gathering news. Reporters who promise interviewees things without the editor’s approval makes it hard for us because at times the editor does not share the same interests with the reporter. Those who do not protect their sources makes it so impossible for us to get people to talk.


We need writers who will respect the country's talent bearing individuals and not those who are always bitter, vindictive, aggressive and willing to see craft going to the debris bin. How do we then address or approach the matter? Think of it this way, do you want to be one of the reporters that artists praise in their songs about the good work you put towards their craft? Or do you want to be one of those, ‘Oh God s/he is here who the hell invited her?’ I don’t want to be hated by the subjects of my stories nor their fans at all.


We should stop being so bloody conceited and acting like ignorant fools who do not respect their jobs. It is time that we write heartwarming stories that will not only leave a smile on someone’s face but arouse the interest of pursuing a career in the entertainment industry. How many times you hear a person saying, “I don’t want to be famous because I am scared of journalists.” Should that be the case? No! It is disgusting because bad reporters shadow us (Good Reporters) too. It is expensive to build a brand but so inexpensive to crash it to the dust, on that note let’s be careful about what words can do to people and their careers. 


Auberon Waugh once said, “Generally speaking, the best people nowadays go into journalism, the second best in the business, the rubbish into politics and the shits into law.” Can our way of reporting stand out as best and take the industry further? Including teaching the vulnerable people who use anger to decide because of what we cater for them on a daily basis.



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By Buchule Raba |See my other columns News24 Channel |Add me on Facebook |Follow me on Twitter |Send me an email editor@goxtranews.com

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