Shock Jock Knock

*smacks lips appreciatively*

Aah….I love the smell of satire and commentary in the morning. Give me a little Zapiro or some Urban Trash. Or hand me a fat helping of the legendary Pieter Dirk-Uys and a generous portion of solid and well-written political commentary by, amongst others, Chris Roper. Give me this and give it to me in spades and I`m a happy girl. I grew up reading Mad Magazine and to date have one of the largest collections of this mag in my circle of friends (barring the Ironfist). From a young age I was enthralled by the idea that these cartoonists and writers would take on governments and presidents and get away with it.

Political satire and political commentary is important for free speech, free thinking and, essentially, democracy. Not only does it allow us to take the piss out of ourselves, but it allows us to put into perspective those issues that effect us every single day, sometimes in the worst possible way.

It sometimes serves to demystify the perception around our government leaders it takes away the perception that they are untouchable. So, yeah…Satire is fantastic. Commentary affirms my belief in the idea of free speech.

More often than not, satire is communicated through the everyday man`s traditional

media the newspaper. In this, the role of the editor is an important one. It is important for the reader to understand that what they are reading is a lampoon to denounce an action by one or a few political leaders.

Further to that….

A.M. Rosenthal, legendary editor of the New York Times, said, The job of an editor is, among other things, to prod, shape, wheedle, cajole, mediate, challenge, anticipate, nit-pick, chastise, inspire, support, confront, defend, harangue, and, as required, suggest different words, phrases, or grammar.

It`s not an easy job being an editor, don`t you think? In fact – if you want to be rich and make oodles of money, don`t become a journalist. Only at the point where you`re a sub-editor or editor, do you start to see some kind of remuneration that`s equitable. Yep…you`re doing it ‘for the love` and that is why I am in corporate. I cannot see myself doing it for the love. And I have respect for the journalist who still love the chase of a good story and report with integrity and a passion for their craft.

So, you can imagine that being the editor is a very important job. You have to be good at what you do. In essence, you need to convey to your reader an unbiased story, based on researched fact and you need to do this succinctly and with perfect spelling and grammar. Does it matter that you`re writing for THE VOICE and your readership doesn`t give a hoot about spelling and grammar no. Do not be that presumptuous ever. It`s just morsig. But surely when you`re writing satire or commentary you have a bit of leeway, right? You get to say what you want to say. Air your views as it were. However, your still have a responsibility to your readers to convey to them that this is a) commentary or b) satire and that it is your opinion, but it is based on fact and not a glorified thumbsuck or gut feeling. Sure, in a weblog as a private citizen you can say anything you damn well please…but in the media it is expected that, while you are given the torch of free speech, you are required to be responsible. After all, how thin is the line between news and propaganda?

The point of my diatribe is that yesterday, while browsing Urban Trash, I was made aware of a piece of apparent satirical commentary written by a gentleman called, Loose Cannon (check the article here)

Mr. Cannon, I daresay, fancies himself the Howard Stern of the Botswana Media A shock jock for news in print, so to speak. The Editor of the Sunday Standard in Botswana (Outsa Mokone) defended his decision to publish the article by saying that his columnist was using satire to bring his point across. Fair enough…if it had been that apparent that he was being a satirist. In a time and place, when we are already up-in-arms regarding the direction of our future presidency and the allegations of rape and corruption against Jacob Zuma, I am frankly appalled by Outsa Mokone`s lack of judgment. This is not clever satire. Had it been apparent that it is satire, I would have applauded Loose Cannon for his big…um..Cannons. It would possibly have been funny. In fact, it would have been ingenious. These are all issues that would be great fodder for a satirist. Had it been made clear that, that is what it was.

However, it was an unnecessarily provocative piece of commentary that fell flat because it picked at the rawest wounds of the collective South African body Rape, Corruption and the future of our country. It wasn`t intelligent or clever.

Imagine a guy walking up to you in a doctor`s office and telling you that you have 2 days to live. Am I to assume he is a doctor and that he has the right and the knowledge to tell me this, just because we met in a doctor`s office?

However… as the Editor of this publication did not feel that he had a responsibility to make the point of this commentary clear and succinct for it`s readership, it irked readers more than anything else. However, I feel that at the end of the day his shoddy editorial style is his own prerogative.

Now…that does not account for the fact that he let some very bad spelling and grammar go to print. And hey, you can defend your journalist`s viewpoint on a subject, you can defend your decision to present a antagonistic piece of commentary that could have had better impact had it been presented in a clever and intelligent manner but how do you defend allowing bad writing to go to print unchecked.

You see… if you so desire, Mr. Editor, I will not focus on the apparently satirical comment regarding the rape of women, which is in bad taste no matter WHO you are. However, I pose to you the question…

What then of the blatant rape of the English language?

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