OP-EDs

STOP FAKE NEWS: AN OPEN LETTER TO MISA LESOTHO

By Moeketsi John: A Concerned Citizen

Dear Misa Lesotho

The Zeitgeist (defining mood) in the 21st century has been dominated, to a fairly large extent, by a significant consideration by human beings, of human rights, entitlements and freedoms. One of the freedoms mankind has been endowed with is that of speech. It is held in such a high regard that it is arguably the zenith of tests of freedom in most modern societal civilizations.

It is in this spirit that the founding fathers of the United States of America saw it befitting to include a line in their constitution that basically states; “no parliament shall legislate any piece of work which may be deemed to infringe upon the right to freedom of speech and freedom of the press.”

Rights, however, have come to befriend the honourable, Mr. Responsibility as we all know. This just reminded me why I write to you MISA LESOTHO, to bring to your attention, the reckless, irresponsible rhetoric and the spewing of hatred by one Political pundit from Tšenolo FM.

The word pundit has not been used in a disparaging fashion here. In fact, I have no intention to denigrate anybody. Rather, I feel a strong sense of responsibility to conscientise listeners who are misled on a daily basis by this commentator. I believe MISA LESOTHO can assist me in this endeavor.

Tšenolo FM strives for excellence in most of its programmes, it is a wonderful radio station and it has got terrific reporters of rectitude. To name a few of great news anchors, I can cite Retšepile Maloi, Tšeliso Tale and a host of other excellent reporters. To be succinct, Tšenolo is dedicated to educating and keeping Basotho well-informed without any form of bias whatsoever.

There has, however, in recent times, sprung a counter movement to that which Tšenolo FM strives for and would stand for. This is a spectre of disaster. This counter- progress movement is encapsulated in the suppertime programme that airs between 7pm to approximately 9.30pm, Hlokoana La Tsela.

The Programme’s anchor, who happens to be a former active politician does a huge disservice to the programme and the entire media fraternity in Lesotho. This Pundit, throws random opposition talking points with some doctored news items to brew a perfectly blended propaganda which he then serves to credulous listeners.

One needs to listen to his prologue – which, quite frankly, I normally listen to, for not longer than two seconds – to make a sensible conclusion that his anti-government rhetoric is all fabricated by the opposition.

His impatience with online callers who happen to be pro-government is unheard of. His admiration for anyone who utters hateful remarks against the government in office is unmatched. This pundit barely injects facts into his stories. Any conspiracy theory that can do harm to the integrity of the government would do it for him. His thirst to overthrow the incumbents is unprecedented.

This is quite disturbing especially when it is done by someone who is not a Johnny-come-lately in the media circle. I ponder for days on end, about true journalists who grew up listening to Mr. Stone Senior. Indeed, there are true journalists out there; people who strive to keep the nation informed, while Stone Sr works had to spread disinformation.

Mr. Stone is for all intents and purposes by far the truest definition of the term, fake news. Stone is purely fake news. He has invoked his right to speech but has clearly forgotten to add a taste of responsibility to that speech. Fake news is exactly what he reports every night. His effort does some tremendous harm to journalism in terms of first discrediting the work of journalists of integrity, the likes of PC FM’s Buda Moseme and his co-host, Palo Mohlotsane and secondly by being plainly biased toward opposition diatribe.

I therefore urge Misa, to protect journalistic integrity by exposing fake news and confronting it. This is my humble request. Opinionated programmes, I have no qualms with, it is fake news I don’t condone. And so should MISA.

Mr Stone won’t even allow himself to be fact- checked which he surely can do with, and this is even more problematic. MISA, please come to the rescue of both journalism on the hand and the Basotho people on the other, who deserve better than fake news. MISA LESOTHO, stop this madness! Misa, end this Misery. I shall be paying close attention to the change in tone of the programme, I have confidence Misa will do something. Thank you. NW

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