Sir, through your esteemed paper let me say my observations about the quality of our newspapers. The standard of most of our newspapers has generally declined. News items are increasingly just petty stuff. A good number of columnist lack appeal. The once mighty Monitor, Botswana Guardian and The Midweek Sun today run headlines on news items which only last year could only manage to make it to same dark corner of some middle page of these papers. Some of them even report tshele, just like The Voice you know, except The Voice still beats them at the game. Two years ago, I rated local papers based on their level of sincere commitment to national issues, and if I were to brave the task again, I would now award the grades differently like this:
Sunday Standard: A+
The Gazette: B
Daily News: B-
The Guardian: B-
The Mirror C
The Monitor: C
The Sun: C
The Voice: C
Others: Unable to Rate
I wish to observe that while The Sunday Standard is improving by leaps and bounds, other papers, especially The Guardian, Monitor, and The Sun are regressing in standard. Mmegi is not as inviting as it used to be. Today I can afford to buy its Friday issue as late as Monday morning. Only The Gazette and The Voice have kept standards. I still buy The Guardian on a Thursday evening because of its early bird advantage, otherwise on most occasions, soon after buying it, I ruefully find myself folding it up or giving it away. No news! I cannot believe that nowadays sometimes I just browse through the news headings and go out of the shop without buying my erstwhile favorite Monitor, while only a few years back I would not even open before buying. I have now reserved that attitude exclusively for The Sunday Standard. Ladies and gentlemen of the Fourth Estate, the public is thirsty for news – real news; the kind that urges a man to go home to his recliner, remove his shoes, loosen his tie, cross his legs and then hold up the paper.
To our columnists, a lot of you too, are simply uninspiring. There are a few who, to me, still take their remit seriously though. Without them some of the papers would truly find it hard to survive. In the order only by which they hit my mind, I will mention Loose Canon, Spencer Mogapi, Bugalo Chilube , Michael Dingake, Professor Richard Tabulawa, Rampholo Molefhe, Nelson Letshwane, and Boitshepo Giyose. These are giants I wish to pay special tribute to. I do not wish to forget the unforgettable, controversial yet formidable and forthright, Duma Boko. Monitor would do well to recall him. Other columnists may still be okay, but they probably lack spark. I am here thinking of the likes of George, Van Resburg and Beata. I rarely read sports news and columns and I may have misjudged guys in that field. But I must say that I am a wide reader, and I am still to be inspired by the writings, of the rest of the columnists. That is if they care to impress me as well. I am not particularly excited by the kind of subjects discussed by Tabulawa, Rampholo and Giyose. But I like their passion and knowledge of their pet subjects. They have kept me glued to their cocoons. I still enjoy the eloquence and expertise of Tabulawa despite his goof on Double Shift. I do not share most of Chilume’s hardline beefs, but I respect his strong arguments. Michael Dingake is one brainy, astute old man, rivaled only by Sir Ketumile in our small political playing field. I crave a TV debate on any national issue by these two seasoned politicians. The loquacious Molobe is difficult to place. He can be dispensed with. I suggest “Just a Thought” be christened ‘Garrulous Gary’.
I warn Gary to stop talking with his hands in front of Loose Canon. This one must just go.
Lastly, as far as consistent and principled editorial comments are concerned, my first unequivocal vote goes to Mmegi. The Sunday Standard and The Gazette take second position. The Guardian, The Midweek Sun and Monitor, scoop the third prize. A consolation prize goes to The Mirror and The Voice.
Nehemiah Obed Mugoni