A few weeks ago I read an article in this same paper, addressing “irresponsible” reporting by local radio stations.
I found the author observant in his remarks and wished he could have explored the topic further.
As a developing nation, with a democratic government at the helm, the role of media assumes greater importance in educating, informing and entertaining the citizens.
However it seems that this is hardly the case, particularly regarding broadcast media.
Print media is important but with the far reaching coverage that both radio and television provide, broadcast media could be said to be the more influential media platform in the country.
So the horrific cringing feeling I get in my stomach every time I tune into local radio and television shows is justified, based on what my expectations are as a consumer.
It is understandable that low budgetary resources and outdated equipment may largely contribute to the appalling standard of local shows.
This does not condone the poorly prepared and tactless presentation we are given on a daily basis.
At first it was always a moment of comic relief amongst colleagues and friends when a news presenter mispronounced words or made grammatical errors.
But as more radio stations take to the air and more shows are introduced to the nation, the quality just becomes worse.
The problem is magnified on shows that are presented in English.
As Basotho people English is our second language and the expectation is not that everyone will be fluent in the language.
However as a language that is taught in our schools, used in business and to communicate with the rest of the world, surely effort should be made to use the language properly on public platforms.
I am not referring to accents, but more to diction and content delivered.
One can only be saddened by the myriad of daily jokes shared on social networks (some by myself) about local radio and television presenters.
The comments written on popular sites like Facebook and Twitter range from insults from disgruntled listeners to passionate pleas by critics who expect a lot more from public broadcasters.
Most foreigners are often baffled by how some of the content or lack thereof, is sanctioned to be on air and are amazed at how we as the listeners have accepted it as the norm in our daily lives.
Having spent time on both radio and television, this resonates with me and I cannot help but try to identify the core causes of such dismal and inappropriate use of radio and television.
We must first be aware of the fact that for the most part it is not the presenters’ fault.
The shows are often scripted and packaged for them by in-house “producers” and “editors”.
Therein lies the first obstacle.
These are the individuals who are responsible for the content that goes on air.
This exposes a deeper problem within our broadcasting industry, particularly within the state owned institutions.
There is clearly a serious lack of appreciation, understanding and skills at higher levels which automatically filters to the on-air staff.
This situation sabotages the credibility and mandate given to these shows.
While this is not a general opinion and there are those who do their jobs well, the shortcomings on the part of producers and editors who slacken means that presenters are often misled.
For a news presenter to wrongly address heads of state, mispronounce names of places or present wrongful facts is a sin in journalism.
To do it on a daily basis, on every show is downright criminal.
It is also very wrong and misleading for talk show hosts to employ a misinformed or undermining line of questioning when interviewing important figures and other people of interest.
Lack of training means that actual presenters just blabber on and on about their own interests and lives, repelling listeners in the process.
This happens because there is usually/invariably no research or readings to base content or debate on. So people are paid to be on air for three hours every day to amuse themselves.
Not only is it annoying, it is also very discouraging to other young people who have the talent and skills for broadcasting to watch others waste their opportunities through sensationalised and uninformed banter.
This disconnect is the very reason there is such a limited interest by top brand names to advertise on radio and television locally.
Most companies do not see the benefit of placing their brand amongst all the immature and unaccountable fodder that is on the airwaves.
The real danger and the reason I have written this article is that, all of this unforgivable use of media has far-reaching consequences.
One of the most important roles of media, as earlier mentioned, is to educate and inform and this is why radio and television serve as a reference point/tool for learners.
In a country where there is only one television broadcaster and a few credible radio stations, the question we need to ask ourselves is what exactly are we learning?
Think about the next generation of children who are currently in primary and high school.
Their whole outlook of the world is shaped by what they hear and see, especially on radio and television.
There is a whole generation of Basotho youth that has the experience, ambition and talent for production and multimedia.
It is time we stepped out of the eighties and into the second decade of the new millennium.
In today’s age of information, it is a must that as listeners and viewers we demand more from our broadcasters, if we are to keep up with the ever-growing world.
- This is the article which we failed to publish in full last week. We apologise for the error. — Editor