Who’s media is it anyway?
In public relations, the key is patience. Give things a little time and the media will forget. The media thrive on the original, the upsetting, the unexpected. Let one volcano erupt and kill a hundred people and it will be headline news. But if they have they have the temerity to keep erupting all over the world the public will lose interest, unless bigger numbers of people are killed. A hundred people dead? Oh,that happened last week and the week before. No one wants to read about that anymore. Give us another type of natural disaster-maybe an asteroid scare, or a freak lightning storm so that one of our government ministers can institute an inquiry into why lightning kills so many people. The public is getting bored with earthquakes especially near dangerous nuclear power stations, along with hurricanes, tsunamis and big fires. At first we were overjoyed to hear about dogs that survived for weeks on a floating piece of rubble now we don’t want to hear anything about Japan. We all had a lot to say at first about Somalia now we are used to the sight of dying people. We are bored with African revolutions.
Many significant events go by without a record. Many events that appear significant to us in hindsight are not in the media in contemporary time. Julius Malema in late June threatened a march from Alexandra to Sandton, to highlight economic divides. Yet less than a week before this statement a march actually did take place, led by black consciousness activists like Andile Mngixitama,which received no coverage? But let Malema do it, he will get front headlines. Tahir square is occupied, big news. Wall street occupied, no one notices ,no coverage on the big media and until something radical happens.
If I want to learn about my countries state of existence, a 1995 book of poetry by Seithlamo Motsapi will be more informative about the nations psyche and existential crisis than myopic contemporary liberal news coverage. Poetry contains more compressed reality. The real existence is the unwritten in our news. I feel more at home reading many community papers, like Echo, Edendale Eyethu,Taxi Indaba. There is a flow of life in them,not the pretence at impersonality and impartial coverage.
Service delivery protests, burning tyres, poverty. We become numbed to existence. I fight a fight for awareness daily. I want to be conscious. I don’t want to be hidden from suffering. I need reality. I can’t evade realness. If we use words we should not want to use them as a shield to euphemise existence. When I drive into Pietermaritzburg from Greytown, always look at the SWAPO informal settlement. I take in everything-the people, the homes, the compression of living spaces. My mind is overwhelmed by the gaps of perception between peoples, and the different writers of history. I write about reality repetitively, irritating many people. I don’t care if Rihanna was chased out of a cornfield-what of it?
The mainstream media has done a great job of hyping her and every other Yankee doodle dandy enough. What I know is that the lives of the marginalised are filled with news that goes unreported. I have often wanted to do a series of interviews, not of famous people, but of ordinary people. Of prostitutes, single mothers, part time criminals, pensioners, unemployed people and taxi drivers.
With patience, even the newspapers are forgotten. Ironically it is the very things marginalised from the mainstream that live longest. Writers neglected in their lifetime are studied afterward for centuries. Who will remember or care about Khanyi Mbau or Kenny Kunene in 500 years? They will remember Thando Mqgolozana, Sethlamo Motsapi, Moses Molelekwa. They will remember Simphiwe Dana longer than Beyonce. With time, patience, and space, the perspective of things change.