LAST week I got an email from former Daily News editor Geoffrey Nyarota complaining about an opinion-editorial piece I wrote two weeks ago about a re-engagement and reset meeting which Information minister Jonathan Moyo and his officials held with media representatives to discuss issues of mutual interest.
Editor’s Memo with Dumisani Muleya
Nyarota claimed and protested I had attacked him by referring to “media dinosaurs and old fashioned journalists” even though I did not mention him.
I replied saying I was not able to deal with his issue because I was on leave.
As I was travelling, I was not able to read his rambling article although I asked why he assumed I was targeting him personally when I clearly referred in plural to a generation of has-beens resisting change.
A day before his article was published in the Herald last Friday, he replied cheekily raging I was “not serious” with my work and “those who start fights and run away stand to fight another day”.
Wound up by his needless insolence and hostility, I reminded him even if he childishly calls himself “media trailblazer” he is not my boss and should not harass me –– effectively telling him to get away and “get a life”.
Although I respect him as a person and a professional, I had to hit back because I felt he behaved like one of those dying breeds of Neanderthal editors who still inhabit and roam the shrinking terrain of palaeolithic journalism in the age of digital media, bullying colleagues and acting like a bull in a China shop. Gone are the days when editors used to treat or whip journalists like dogs.
In my piece, I had captured issues raised in the meeting with Moyo.
I would have expected Nyarota, given his reputation and experience as a journalist, to be more useful, shedding light and insight on the current dynamics and trends in the media in his reply.
However, his piece, riddled with inaccuracies, factual errors and even misrepresentations like his discredited book, Against the Grain, was rather disappointing as it got bogged down on personalities and events, not ideas.
There is no doubt journalism in Zimbabwe and globally is facing serious challenges due to rapid changes wrought by the new 24/7 media climate.
With the explosion of social media, online coverage and blogging, journalism is changing faster than you can tweet about it.
The impact of all these upheavals has been a huge drop in advertising revenues, a steady decline in circulation of newspapers and haemorrhaging of journalism jobs on a scale never seen before.
Professional and ethical standards have also declined.
Instead of tackling such issues, Nyarota’s narcissistic piece only helped to further demonstrate how he is consumed by hubris and self-righteousness which is why he calls himself “media trailblazer”.
But his shoddy article badly exposed him due to its distortions and lies.
Owing to a lack of space, a few examples will suffice. In his opening line, Nyarota claims George Nicholas, said to be the oldest journalist in the world, is American. That is not true. He is South African.
In his second line he says British television journalist David Frost died on September 1. In fact, he died on August 31. And for his information Larry King is no longer with CNN.
Further, Nyarota cannot even distinguish Tweeter from Twitter. He referred to Tweeter (liquidated American electronic goods company) trying to say Twitter (the online social networking and microblogging service).
That is over and above his malicious lies that Alpha Media Holdings is being sued “left, right and centre” and that Iden Wetherell is the “real power” behind this paper’s editorship.
One can go on to show his reckless disregard for facts and falsehoods, but the real trouble is that Nyarota is pathetically holier than thou –– unnecessarily so –– at the expense of enlightened debate.