As we begin a new year, media houses must keep their houses in order and spare us the embarrassment they have caused us in recent years.
I will give particular focus in this article to one private radio station, Mo-Afrika FM, that has become notorious for its shoddy work.
I have always been appalled by the unprofessionalism demonstrated by some of our broadcast media houses in Lesotho.
One does not need to be a trained journalist to spot such unprofessionalism.
The radio station in question is notorious for its misleading and highly biased half-truths which are apparently intended to suit the agenda of the owner.
It would be easy to label the state-run Radio Lesotho a propaganda radio station. This is mainly because of its not-so-clean record during the time of former premier Pakalitha Mosisili.
Radio Lesotho was seen as a propaganda channel for the then ruling Lesotho Congress for Democracy and Democratic Congress governments.
Radio Lesotho only broadcast propaganda in line with the wishes of the then ruling party.
But of late Mo-Afrika appears to have taken over that role with aplomb.
The only small difference is that this radio station propagates the personal religious views of its owner.
The radio station takes advantage of its listeners who are mostly typical Basotho males and females who agree to anything the owner says without fully applying their minds.
This is very unfortunate.
Take for instance what happened in the run-up to the May 26 general election. Through its incompetent and notoriously ignorant presenters masquerading as journalists, Mo-Afrika broadcast patently false and misleading information regarding what it alleged were “behind-the-scenes talks” between the LCD and the DC.
The station reported that the LCD leader Mothetjoa Metsing had been seen creeping secretly at night for talks with the then premier Pakalitha Mosisili.
But this assertion was not thoroughly corroborated by those broadcasting the false information.
It almost caused a serious ruckus in the country. We now know that nothing of that sort happened.
This was at a very delicate stage of our national politics.
Every Mosotho was anxious to know whether the LCD would accept the All Basotho Convention (ABC)’s proposal to form a coalition or would back the DC.
But the “journalists” at Mo-Afrika FM threw all ethics out of the window and decided to broadcast such half-truths (God bless their little minds) only for the information to be vigorously denied by the LCD.
It is this carelessness and unprofessionalism that our media houses must try to avoid.
I suggest such presenters go back to school to learn the principles and ethics of journalism.
We know that a small amount of knowledge can mislead people into thinking they are experts in their field when they are not.
I also believe radio stations should not be a platform for the owners to perpetuate their personal religious and political views.
Take for example, this worn-out slogan that is aired before and after news bulletins about “Christianising” Lesotho (Bokreste bo kengoe molaong oa motheo oa naha).
My God, this has become so monotonous to listeners’ ears.
Reasonable listeners are fed up with this rubbish uttered by Mo-Afrika. Owners of the station don’t even critically delve into the implications and meaning of what it means to “Christianise Lesotho” or what its consequences would be.
Poor presenters, who are sometimes edited and corrected by the owner on air, utter such nonsense out of fear of been kicked out of work if they fail to toe the line.
A simple analysis would reveal that “Christianising Lesotho”, whatever that means, would encroach on individuals’ personal freedoms.
It would be in serious breach of some of the fundamental human rights as prescribed by Article 9 of the Human Rights Act 1998 which guarantees freedom of thought, conscience and religion.
Since Christians themselves are already divided when it comes to certain doctrines and teachings, which one would we enact into our Constitution?
We have Roman Catholics, Protestants (Anglican), Apostolic Faith Churches, Born Again, Jehovah’s Witnesses or any other denominations which all teach and uphold certain values and theology which is different from the other.
All these hold different views even yet they all call themselves Christians.
Which doctrines would be enacted into our Constitution?
On a different but related note, there is this never-ending and boring advert of a certain traditional healer who was recently charged with raping a girl under the disguise of diagnosing her “sickness”.
After the rape incident involving this traditional healer, who claims to have supernatural or magical powers to heal, I patiently listened to Mo-Afrika FM to hear if this matter would be broadcast.
To my disappointment I never heard this story being broadcast.
Was the omission deliberate or was there something else that dictated why it was never aired?
I know this radio station consistently broadcasts stories about rape.
If this was deliberate, what does this say about Mo-Afrika’s professionalism?
While this bogus healer is still facing charges in the courts, is it proper for the radio station to continue running his adverts on air purporting to heal all manner of illnesses?
The “healer” must first clear his name in the courts before he dupes more people. I believe that broadcast journalism in Lesotho is one big joke.
To a large extent broadcast journalists are their worst enemy.
But it is them alone who can do something to repair their battered reputation.
- Lepeli Moeketsi is a sub-editor at the Lesotho Times and Sunday Express