Mandela’s health: Shooting the messenger

The media covering the illness of Nelson Mandela were unjustly attacked by the government, the family and the public, says Mike Hanna of Al Jazeera.

It’s a common strand among most societies in crisis that when the going gets tough the media gets blamed. Governments sometimes do it as a way of masking their mistakes; people do it as a way of dealing with their sense of loss or confusion. Segments of the media also tend to cannibalise their own, most frequently unfortunately in response to being beaten on a story by the opposition.

Importantly, the media part of the time deserves to be blamed. There are as many incompetent, inexperienced or simply unethical journalists as there are bad lawyers, dentists or fund managers. Yet the blanket dismissal of media simply because its agenda is not in accordance with your own strikes at the principle of free expression which should be cherished by all societies that have any pretensions to democracy.

So it is in South Africa. The media covering the illness of Nelson Mandela has been sharply attacked by the government, the family, and members of the public. The foreign media in particular being singled out for criticism.

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