Wednesday, December 4, 2013


 Dear Newspaper Readers,

        Isn’t it brilliant the way newspapers, those watchdogs of public behaviour have two kinds of morality? In their editorial they will have us believe that they tell the truth and nothing but the truth, whereas they often allow their advertisers to do the opposite, proving once again that money corrupts.
         Take the Johannesburg based The Citizen as an example. On its second page under the heading Code of Conduct it tells us that it has committed itself to report news truthfully and accurately in accordance with the highest standards of journalism as set out in the Press Code of South Africa.

        Then it blows those noble sentiments sky high at the back of the paper with columns of advertisements that are totally unbelievable.

         Its Code of Conduct goes on to tell us that if we don’t like what the paper is up to we can complain to the Press Ombudsman. But very conveniently he doesn’t concern himself with dodgy ads, only editorial.

         Adverts are supposed to be policed by the Advertising Standards Authority. But as I found out this organisation was worse than useless when I tried to get it to do something about very dicey get-rich-quick ads that were appearing in the Sunday Times.

  The Citizen has been quite happy to profit from its suspect advertisers and aid an abet them to rip of its gullible readers who are evidently prepared to pay for this pie in the sky.
         The ads are pock marked with names of people calling themselves doctors when they clearly are not. Of course nobody seems concerned that this is illegal.
         Dr Ruben promises With 100% guarantee I return lost love in one hr. Social oil to get any partner you want same day. Manhood enlargement bigger, harder and stronger in one hr. Hire strong short boys and magic sticks to bring money within one hr. Get any job you want and get double salary.
         That’s typical of the mumbo jumbo The Citizen is peddling in its smalls ad sections under a Herbalist heading. In the edition I saw the page of these would have been worth roughly R40 000 to the paper at between R40 and R50 a line.

         There’s Dr Mathu, Dr Love, Dr Jay and Dr Aziz all of whom no doubt got their degrees at the world renowned University of Money Making Magic.

     This section of the paper is an Aladdin’s Cave of miracles with 100% guarantees all over the place. And to make this wonderland seem more believable some of them have included T & C's Aplly just like the banks, cell phone companies and other big boys do when they advertise.

         All those millionaires one reads about who toiled for years to accumulate their wealth needn’t have bothered if only they had read The Citizen.

         Here’s a testimony from one of Baba Gonondo’s admirers. Two of my friends decided to visit him in Pretoria. One chose the Short Boys to put money in his bank account and R680 000 was in his account after an hour. The other one chose Rats to put money in his house. He was shocked to see R490 000 in his house in the morning and they paid 10% from the money they got. Everyone I have referred to him they said they have been helped the same day. I would like to thank Baba Gonondo for his help. If you have any problems please don’t hesitate, just call or visit him.

         That ad cost an estimated R5 000.

         Note to readers of this post: If you want Gonondo’s contact details I’m not passing them on for nothing. It will cost you plenty.

         Short Boys and Rats, alien spirits that bring money, feature in quite of few of the ads.

         Ads like these have no place in any self respecting newspaper. What really should have happened is that these advertisers should have been exposed for what they are in the editorial section of a paper. But The Citizen has evidently not been prepared to bite the hand that feeds it and opposition papers have not expose this, possibly because many of them are doing much the same thing.

STEVE MOTALE is not to blame for the adverts.
They were there when he arrived at the paper

          I tossed this hot potato to The Citizen's recently appointed
 Editor Steven Motale. Sorry Steve for giving you this one when you’ve hardly settled in to the hot seat.

         He is to be commended for phoning me, unlike several Editors of the Sunday Times.  I never got a peep out of them in my three year campaign to get that paper to stop running highly suspect investment ads.
         "I think you've got a point" Steven told me. He conceded these were, "not believable" and suggested that his paper should still carry them but give readers a "caution"
         But when I told him that this would be an admission that his paper believed the ads were dubious, he replied: "It's a tough one. I'm going to take it up with the advertising department."
So we’ll see what happens. R40 000 or more a day it not to be discarded lightly.

Will money override acceptable morality once again?

         The Citizen is a national, daily tabloid with a circulation of around 70 000. It was founded in 1976 by the National Party apartheid government using money from a secret government slush fund as it desperately needed the support of an English speaking paper. The White Afrikaner dominated Nats were replaced in 1994 by a Black African National Congress government.
         In 1998 the paper was bought by the CTP/Caxton group, publisher of magazines and newspapers as well being the country’s largest commercial printer.

Its core readership is black middle class men many of whom evidently believe that black magic as advertised by the this paper works.
Jon the Poor Man’s Press Ombudsman who is not to be confused with that far less effective Press Ombudsman referred to in The Citizen’s Code of Conduct. He comes under the South African Press Council set up by the media. It believes that "Effective self-regulation is the best system for promoting high standards in the media."
How can policing yourself possibly be the best way to go? And when it comes to newspapers its other great flaw is that it has no say over the standard of advertising that takes up a great proportion of most papers. 

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