COVID-19 lays bare fallacy of fair, impartial and balanced global media

I have always believed that I was a born writer - possessing a firm inherent conviction that every voice should be heard...no matter how seemingly miniscule or insignificant.

Tendai Ruben Mbofana

 

That is why, in form one and two of high school, my late best friend (Brian Taurai Murau) and I would “publish” a hand-written class “newspaper” (using centerfold pages from exercise books) – which we named, “The MurMbof Times” – out of the love to provide everyone a voice on issues that affected them at school.

This passion did not stop there, as a year later (1989), in form three, I took this passion to the next level – by approaching a local Kwekwe newspaper editor with a proposal for weekly contributions – which focused primarily on challenges and concerns being raised within our community.

Within two years (in 1991, when I was now doing the Lower Sixth form) I had fledged into a bona fide contributor – with my own regular column, called “The Unoppressed Mind” – whose main focus was speaking for the voiceless, and standing up for the oppressed and unjustly treated.

A perilous path that saw me ruffling the feathers of those in power, and attracting my fair share of veiled threats and intimidation – particularly, from those aligned to the ruling party in my local community, who told me that they would unleash cockerels (the ruling party symbol at that time) to crow so loud that no one would hear me!

Nonetheless, from my history of having being bullied as a child – and, finally learning to stand up for myself, through peaceful resistance – threats and intimidation no longer worked on me, but instead, made me even more determined to fight.

In all this, the fuel to my unrelenting determination was for every person’s voice to be heard – which I believed, and still believe, is one of the most cardinal rights of human existence.

Jehovah God Almighty, when He created us, blessed us with one of the greatest gifts of all His creations – the ability to communicate, especially through talking – a gift that enabled each and every one of us to openly express our views, desires, and pains.

Therefore, I find it extremely offensive and anti-God for anyone to stand in the way of this God-given right to free expression – since, in my book, that is akin to individuals turning themselves into deities, who can determine what should, or should not, be said or heard.

This is what has kept me going as a writer since 1989 – although other obstacles and personal challenges in my life had interrupted my writing for some years in between – but, the desire has never been dampened…every voice had the right to be heard without any prejudice or hindrances.

Yet, in spite of fair, balanced, and impartial media always having been a core ethical principle of mainstream global media – something we also learnt at journalism school (which, I later attended, as a way of sharpening my already deployed writing skills) – this has largely remained a fallacy at best, and brazenly non-existent at worst.

The uninitiated would understandably believe that such a tendency to stifle voices that expressed opposing views, was predominantly a “Third World” phenomenon – however, the reality on the ground is that even the so-called mainstream international media were very much as guilty.

Indeed, as we grew up, we tended to blindly worship global news organizations as some epitomes of truth-telling, fairness, balance, and impartiality.

Nonetheless, our eyes were shockingly opened to the brutal realities of the world – especially, after the spewing of blatantly shameful lies about Iraq dictator, Saddam Hussein’s alleged “weapons of mass destruction” (WMDs), which the global media declared (in a matter of fact manner) he possessed.

Needless to say, after justifying the ruthless invasion of the country on 19 March 2003 by United States-led forces – no such WMDs were ever discovered – with the only “mass destruction” being that of Iraq, at the hands of the invading military powers.

It became as clear as day to all of us around the world that, international news organizations were not that different from our own repulsive and vulgarly biased “Third World” media after all – possibly, the only difference being that, global media is more polished and sophisticated in their lie-telling than our own, who are plainly pathetic.

Maybe, that should make me prefer our own state-controlled ZBC (Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation) and The Herald newspaper – as their crude lying is there for all to see, and can never be believed even by a six year old!

Yet, the sophistication of world media poses a greater danger, due to its believability.

Fast forward to the COVID-19 pandemic, that has been ravaging the entire world since 2020 – this brazen bias and manipulation of viewers, listeners, and readers was shamefully laid even more bare.

After the development and rollout of vaccines, the world media went all out blindly promoting these as the ONLY panacea to this dreaded virus – thereby, crowding out any other alternative views and opinions.

It can never be denied that there is widespread vaccine hesitancy and skepticism around the world – from West to East, and North to South, countries have struggled to get their citizens to voluntarily vaccinate.

All manner of tools have been employed – from persuasion and pleading, to downright force using mandatory “no jab, no job” or “no jab, no access” policies – with, still, very little success…and, in most instances, only attracting even more resistance and skepticism.

Who can blame them – as who wants to be bullied into doing something they do not want to – certainly, I would not

Yet, if our global media had been true to their declarations of fairness, balance, and impartiality – should they not have been at the forefront of providing a voice to these skeptics, and those preferring other forms of protecting themselves from the virus…particularly seeking protection behind their unshakable spiritual beliefs?

Who is giving these people a voice?

Should that not be the basis of a fair, balanced, and impartial media – or, are there always some other “special considerations”?

Does this not remind us of Iraq, and Saddam’s “weapons of mass destruction” all over again?

What is the world so afraid of in giving those who do not want to be vaccinated against COVID-19 a voice to freely tell their own stories?

What is there to hide?

Are we now saying that, as long as something has been supposedly “proven” by scientists and science, then anything else is a lie, and should never be given the light of day?

If science and scientists are so infallible, “all-powerful” and “all-knowing” – then why is the world media afraid of bringing on set all these contrary voices, so that they can be disproved by “the science”?

As someone who has grown up (and, still lives) in a dictatorship, I easily become distrustful and averse to any media landscape that determines what should, or should not, be spoken about.

If there is nothing to hide, most specifically about these COVID-19 vaccines – why are those dissenting voices not being awarded a fair, balanced, and impartial hearing, without trying to embarrass or humiliate them?

I have spent the greater part of my life standing up for the oppressed, and speaking out for the voiceless – as I believe that is the greatest right of all – and, watching a global media that feels that there are others who need to be silenced, leaves a very sour taste in my mouth.

One does not necessarily have to agree with what they publish or broadcast in their media – as that is the cornerstone of any professional and ethical journalism – but, we need to ensure that every voice’s right to be heard is respected.

That is the least we can do!

© Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, author, and social commentator. Please feel free to contact him on WhatsApp/Call: +263715667700 / +263782283975, or Calls Only: +263788897936 / +263733399640, or email: [email protected]

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