Pick PMB (picpmb.co.za) - Blog 008 -28 November 2011
The Protection of State Information bill and the press

Like many other South Africans, I have followed the debate regarding the Protection of State Information bill, mostly through the press. That I was able to do so, is a tribute to our democracy and a functioning free press. The press has been at the forefront of the fight to prevent this bill being passed into law, in its present form. So far they have done a good job and are to be commended for it.

Like the African National Congress, I also have some problems with the press. I personally believe that the press, at times when they are lacking copy, sensationalize a news item into something bigger than it really is, or deserves to be. Those involved as the subjects of such coverage, may suffer unduly as a result. The press seldom seems to apologize, and I very much doubt that they do in such cases.

Sometimes the press just simply gets it wrong, at times under large headlines. Such errors usually attract an apology, but in my view, never on the scale that the mistake was committed on. Surely the press should be more accountable/responsible for such actions.

So it leaves me unable to get fully behind the press with respect to their concerns regarding this bill and press freedom.

Given the wide spread condemnation of the Protection of State Information bill, my contribution above may help, but it would be a very insignificant contribution. So why did I write about it? The reason would be that I have for some time wanted to write about a related matter namely, two full paged adverts, that appeared on juxtaposed pages in a Sunday newspaper earlier this year. You can see a photograph of the two pages here.

The image on the right is that of a young girl, and is presumably meant to shock the reader. It seems to be aimed at stopping the trafficking of children, and child prostitution. That in its own right is fine, and such efforts should be supported. However, the other juxtaposed image, is presumably not meant to shock, it is presumably meant to encourage, and it is using three young girls to promote a product.

When I look at the two image, they both seem to suggest the exploitation of young girls. They are in my opinion both both evocative. Surely it was irresponsible of that Sunday newspaper, to have publish the two images in the manner that it did. If not, then I would be grateful if someone could explain why that is the case.

Robert Dempster E-mail address [email protected]