Media lobbyists are jumping to the defence of e-tv after police served subpoenas on journalists who interviewed two criminals planning to prey on World Cup visitors. Police are demanding the unedited footage of the interview, as well as the identities of the thugs, one of whom has already been arrested. The other is likely to be nabbed soon, which would obviate the necessity fot the subpoenas and allow this issue to disappear quietly. But the debate around the use of Section 205 of the Criminal Procedure Act to force journalists to divulge information won’t go away.
Business Day argues in an editorial today that the legislation should be used circumspectly, not as a tool for lazy policemen who don’t want to do their own investigation.
“…in the e.tv saga, there is little to be gained from forcing journalists to reveal their sources and much potential to damage the media’s credibility with the public and ability to extract information from interviewees in future.”
I agree with Business Day’s argument in general. But I have to add: in the e-tv case, it is the broadcaster itself which damaged the media’s credibility with the public by manufacturing a Read the rest of this entry »