Questions About Impartiality

The editorial titled ‘We put our trust in you’ raises pertinent questions (Mercury, 11 May).

The Mercury is not a national newspaper so Arthur Miller’s line of a ‘nation talking to itself’ does not apply in a strict sense. Instead, it would apply in a provincial sense and more especially in the sense of who its readers are.

It is a fact that the bulk of subscribers and readers of the Mercury are persons for whom English is their first, home and probably only language. Based on that reality, it is unlikely that the majority of them would be ANC supporters.

So, from that premise, why is it that since its takeover by Sekunjalo, the Mercury reflects overwhelmingly news and views of the ANC? Yes, one is aware that letters critical of the ANC are routinely published, nonetheless, one gets the impression that that is to project a semblance of balance and objectivity. The bulk of the rest of the paper is so given over to ANC views that it reads like an ANC newsletter.

Your editorial takes delight in the fact that the Mercury is now detached from the Press Council. and that, to all intents and purposes, it is now in the hands of a very capable ombudsman assisted by a judge.

Again, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that this new arrangement is to project an image of impartiality. For no amount of packaging can deny the fact that the new arrangement is an ‘in-house’ mechanism. Thus, it cannot claim to be totally impartial. In-house, corporate control is no substitute for an external, neutral adjudication mechanism.

Be that as it may, I intend to submit a complaint to your new watchdog about the political slant of this paper and the Daily News. I look forward to the spin-doctoring Mr Rantao applies in attempting to rebut my case and to what extent trust is actually in my hands as a reader and subscriber.

Sent into The Mercury and published, 12 May 2017.

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