Monday, March 8, 2021

Is the sports media compromised?

The recent Botswana Football Association elections were historic in both the right and the wrong way. On the one hand, Maclean Letshwiti made history by becoming the first Botswana Football Association (BFA) President to win two consecutive terms in office.

On the other, another not-so-great history was made as Ookeditse Malesu became the first BFA presidential candidate to leave without a single vote. Malesu has since acknowledged and accepted his loss, and he says should the appeals against the elections succeed, he would not be interested in participating.

While he can accept that the delegates rejected him, one thing that weighs heavy in his heart is the conduct of journalists. According to him, in the week leading to the elections, a number of journalists went about de-campaigning him.

“The delegates have made their decision and I have accepted it whole heartedly. But my problem goes to journalists who make it their mandate to go around de-campaigning us…” he says.

He says just before the elections, some journalists peddled lies that he had quit the race, something which threw confusion among delegates.

For Malesu, this behaviour among journalists is unacceptable. For him, journalists are not doing what they are supposed to do as laid down in their job ethics.

He believes their allegiances to certain camps or people have gone beyond control and this is not how it used to be done on television, print or radio.

But how knee-deep are local sports journalists in football politics? Yarona FM sports anchor Kagiso Phatsimo, says following the previous football elections, it has become very much known that journalists tend to take sides.

He says things have now got a little bad as money is now allegedly involved and fellow journalists are paid off.

Phatsimo however says even if there may be truth in the allegations, there is nothing much that can be done about it as there is no concrete evidence to prove which journalists in particular are being bought.

“The unfortunate part is we never have concrete evidence of who are doing such acts. Even when we know it’s true, it all boils down to where is the evidence, and without it, there is nothing that can be done,” he says.

He goes on to state that as a journalist, if he could be furnished with proof that certain journalists are benefiting either monetary or any other way, he will surely make it public.

“I have had instances where I invited people to my show just to show them that I know what you guys are doing and it is not proper. It always ends in them hating me but truth is I do not care,” he says.

On what could be leading the journalist to sell their souls, as he puts it, Phatsimo says that ‘journalism in Botswana is not well paying for most of them.’

Another problem, he says, has to do with the high lifestyles’ journalists want to live which he believes they cannot sustain. Phatsimo says this leads to journalists having to sell their souls to the highest bidders.

Weekend Post sports journalist, Mosimanegape Tshoswane says being captured as the so-called sports politicians call it, kills the profession of journalism.

Tshoswane is of the belief that being captured cripples the credibility of journalists in the eyes of the society.

“It should be noted that we are just the middlemen in all this. We take news and report to the society as they are. The last thing we should do is corrupt the news we have,” he says.

“We just have to report what is the truth, nothing more nothing less. Just like other careers that have ethics we have them too and we have to follow them no matter what,” says Tshoswane.

Like Phatsimo, he says it is common knowledge that journalism is a low paying career.

“Journalism is not for everyone just like the calling of a Pastor, journalism is a calling and it is not for the faint hearted,” he says.

“Journalism is low paying and when certain people are captured in the systems of wealthy politicians, they end up accepting it looking at the fact that they will manage to push few things in their private lives even though it is wrong,” he concludes.

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