Ramaphosa story raises ethical alarm bells, says media analyst

Motive and media ethics matter when publishing stories that involve leaked information, explains media analyst William Bird.

This comes after the Sunday Independent's reports that Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa had a number of affairs.

Ramaphosa failed in his attempt to stop the story from being published and the media house says its has copies of his emails to back the claims up.

Bird says the Sunday Independent's story did not outline how the emails were verified before taking it to print.

These things were not present in the story on Sunday. The Sunday Independent may well have checked the veracity of the emails, but there's certainly no indication of that in the story.

William Bird, Executive Director of Media Monitoring Africa

He says the story raises suspicions and has the potential to undermine the credibility of media.

It immediately should put up anyone's red lights...warning readers of those kinds of stories.

William Bird, Executive Director of Media Monitoring Africa

Whistleblowers and people who leak stories always have some kind of agenda.

William Bird, Executive Director of Media Monitoring Africa

Bird explains that the manner in which the story was published was not an ethical decision, but was still within the law.

He says the publication did not make an argument for public interest or show transparency about the agenda of the people who leaked the information.

Read: I have never met Cyril Ramaphosa in my entire life - Nonhlanhla Radebe

You should have the obligation to make those reasons and rational very clear to your readers.

William Bird, Executive Director of Media Monitoring Africa

Whether or not a senior public official is having an affair - unless it impacts directly on their work or if there's evidence of wrongdoing or force, then you have to say what's the public interets in exposing this information

William Bird, Executive Director of Media Monitoring Africa

According to Bird, the publication of the story may only serve a particular interest.

Also read: Ramaphosa allegations a political smear campaign, says Deputy Health Minister

Whoever leaked the Gupta emails, has an agenda as well.

William Bird, Executive Director of Media Monitoring Africa

He advises that readers test the story on its merits and question what agenda it serves.

Take a listen to the insightful discussion:


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