Historical accuracy and the media 13 May 2016

The Mail and Guardian correspondent covering Nigerian President Buhari’s visit to London refers to his election being the first democratic change of power since 1960. (page 18). Totally inaccurate if one checks recent history which a correspondent ought to know?

It is my impression that there is fairly cavalier treatment of ANC history, with reference more than once to the ANC’s ‘anti-pass defiance campaign of the 1950s’, sufficiently vague to cover a minute element of the 1952 Defiance campaign, but not the precision we ought to receive from supposed specialists on the ANC.

It does not appear that journalists who start to cover a particular area of politics bother to read the history, focusing on what is happening and if they hear an ANC version of what is traditional in the ANC, that is what they report as how the ANC does it. There are one or two exceptions, people who have done their homework and continue to do so. Maybe there is a need for some people to take off a few weeks to get up to speed on the background of what they write about.

I am not writing about novices, but fairly senior journalists who have taken short cuts for some time

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