Sensational news takes over our press


A YEAR ago Southern Eye gave me this opportunity to air my views and share my opinions in this column.

Recently the paper celebrated its first anniversary and there was no question about it, it has become one of the best sources of arts and entertainment news.

Independently I applaud the paper’s concerted effort to give the voiceless arts a voice and to champion a national agenda informed by regional balance in coverage. In this day and age sensational news, particularly where popular artistes and musicians are involved tend to be favoured by most publications.

The “who is sleeping with who and who slipped where and was arrested for what” seems to be darling themes for local press simply because that is what people seem to be craving for.

We are a generation obsessed with entertainment that is deep, rooted in sex, nudity and controversy. It’s no longer substantial news that an artiste has won an award, travelled or launched new work. Their bedroom shenanigans and love triangles have been exposed.

That to most editors is a “scoop” and journalists will fall over each other to publish first.

Sadly, however, at the expense of hot news and scoops most papers have turned into tabloids rather than credible news sources and with everything written these days finding its way into the Internet and cyberspace some of these “scoops” have had a negative impact on otherwise very promising careers in the arts and entertainment.

For a fact and as our journalists will always say they do not provide public relations for entertainers. However, they are also not there to disrupt and maim careers.

International promoters, agents, theatre houses and even educational institutions today rely so much on the Internet to research on artistes who approach them with venues and partnerships they wish to create with our local arts fraternity.

The sad thing though is that most of the time when they “google” the entertainers, venues, festivals and institutions, most of the time negative “scoops” about the individuals or groups tend to dominate and therefore hamper opportunities for our home-grown arts and entertainment industry.

This is not to suggest that local artistes should live recklessly though and expect the local press to ignore their shortcomings, but at the same time when they do well it is important that our publications acknowledge that. It will help artistes to grow their careers. My other observation has been that even in cases where articles and stories about local entertainment, artistes and institutions are positive, some of them lack detail.

They really cannot be used as reference as half the time the narration is wrong, names incorrect and background of the artistes or musician either fabricated or totally unresearched and untrue.

Some will even take it further and use wrong pictures or outdated ones. It is now very important for artistes and local institutions to create websites that journalists can refer to for correct information and for publications to create and update databases on artistes, groups, festivals and institutions.

The press, artistes and public need each other and this relationship should be nurtured.

I have already alluded to the craving for sex and nudity as key to entertainment in our generation. The press is not alone in falling for trends.

A generation ago the worries started with musical videos and movies. There was an outcry when people featured in these dressed less and less, but at the same time people liked it.

Judging by artistes like Lady Gaga who has gone from dressing in fresh meat to naked and most recently Rihanna who attended awards in not only a see through, but see all dress we are in strange times indeed. We have seen an increase in kissing and sex scenes too.

Back then they were not prominent and explicit, but today they are even more daring. In time memorial, song writing was about creativity and poetry, then it changed to the catchy one word like Arthur Mafokate’s Iminwe. We have not seen the last.

Of late it’s about meaningless words that trend and have the whole world dancing. Last year were we were wowed by Uhuru’s Y Tjukutja. Oskido is trending at the moment with his new track Nyoso.

I have no idea what Nyoso is, but it’s got people dancing and definitely buying. DJ Cndo and DJ Lusiman have also released a crude lyrical song, Yamnandi Into (The thing is delicious).

You need to hear the song to believe it. Where do we go from here? Keep walking.