Monday, July 30, 2007

Journalistic Responsibility

For those of you who are familiar with the weekly news program aired on THE continent-wide pay channel (m-net) 'Carte Blanche', will also be aware that the show prides itself in its investigative stories and the breakthroughs they seem to make in fields of journalism. I myself find myself watching at every chance I get, and sometimes they really do have stories that intrigue me.

There program that aired on the 29th July 2007, was one of these shows, however for the wrong reasons. The show recounted some sad and horrendous abductions of 6 young girls by a pedophile in the early nineties. The girls or their bodies have not been recovered until this day. I am sure you will agree that must be devastating for the girls' families and friends. The show, purported some breakthrough in the recovery of the girls that they have been investigating for months, that they said they were going to reveal.

There breakthrough was a fraudster named Danie Krugel who claimed that he invented some new technology that allows him to trace people by only having a genetic sample like a strand of hair. He claims that with this sample, a process of quantum physics (vague isn't it) and GPS technology he can track the source of the genetic material. He said he was going to find the bodies or these young girls.

As the story went on, he pointed out a piece of land where he said the girls were buried. The girls were not uncovered. Carte Blanche then called in a psychic to help them out. Once again the bodies were not found. (click here for the full transcript of the story).

What my problem, (maybe due to my ignorance) is that a supposedly impartial investigative team would put up and actually support such a farce. I can understand doing a story on this guy, who claims to have the invention of the millennium yet refuses to publish his findings in any scientific journal (he should have one the Nobel Prize by now)or patent his work. But to actually work together with this man on a absurdly ridiculous crusade on such a sensitive issue, surely that is unethical isn't it?

I have come across a very interesting blog that delves much deeper into the topic. Click here to visit it.

I would really like to hear what you think about the story and the 'inventor' Danie Krugel. Let me know if you think my judgments are unfair or harsh.

This post deviates slightly from my usual topics, but I found this story very intriguing as well as infuriating and thought it was relevant to UJAMAA readers.

Any expression of freedom, activism, the Arts or anything you would like to say is welcome here. Speak.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for this -
I have been searching on google to find more information on this gentleman as this story actually baffled me somewhat. I honestly believe that although he might have good intentions, his "invention" doesnt seem credible to me at all. Besides that I would aim my confusion regarding this story 100% at Carteblanche. As you say I felt it was handled in such an inappropriate and insensitive way. Especially when the pshycic (Marietta Theunissen) "revealed" some rather gruesome details as to what (she claims) happened to the girls. And to view it to the parents and have docter D - the SABC 3 pshycologist assisting the "grieving parents" was absolutely cruel.
The search found nothing - In my opinion the bones could be that of Mrs. Pless's sister - I am sure that one will find all kinds of bones wheter human or ape in any dumpsite accross the country.
The fact that Danie constantly refuses to give information on how his devise works is even more troubling. Surely Carteblanche should only give publicity to certified and approved technologies. Danie is an ex cop/detective. I am sure that any ex - cop detective will be able to reason that the bodies of a killer could be buried in close proximity of his residence..? Choosing a dumpsite in the same neighbourhood just seems too obvious for my liking.
This looks like a publicity stunt for mr Krugel at the expense of grieving parents in a horrible display of journalism.

hj said...

Thank you very much for your comments. I agree with you that Carte Blanche is definitely in the wrong on this one. It is disappointing, as up until this story, I have had a great deal of respect for their investigative reports and their contributions to proactive journalism on the continent. Ever since I expressed my skepticism about Danie and what Carte Blanch purported, I have heard some very interesting comments about the Weekly show. A frequent viewer of the show told me about a story Carte Blanche aired about a year ago that showcased once again a 'new' technology that would supposedly change the world. It was a machine that defied Newton's Laws of Motion. I have not been able to track down the transcript of the story (if anyone knows how I can get a hold of it please let me know) or learn much about this new invention, which is slightly odd because this would be a huge scientific discovery.

It seems like Carte Blanche may have a track record in not thoroughly corroborating stories on new technological inventions.

I have also heard conflicting stories about Carte Blanche during the time of Apartheid South Africa. I have heard both positive and negative comments, and I would really appreciate it if anyone could let me know what they know about Carte Blanches' involvement in the regime or its opponents.

moonflake said...

Thanks for the link HJ. I'm sorry to say that this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to science journalism, in this country and internationally. There is a very real lack of journalists who have sufficient understanding of science (and really, even high school science would be enough!) to present science stories to the public in a fair and informative manner. All this leads to is pseudoscientists being given far more air time than they deserve, and real science only being reported on when it can be swung as some sort of science scare story.

Nobody would stand for a sports journalist who didn't know the first thing about the sports they cover ... why do we accept journalists reporting on science topics when they can't tell the difference between real science and the science you can make up for yourself at home?

Black Shepherd said...

journalistic integrity doesnt exist.

wayne said...

@black shepherd - you said "journalistic integrity doesn't exist." you may well be right. One of the bigger problems is; "who's paying the bills?" and the need to sell papers or advertisements, or get air time - all of these factors can (and does) lead to compromise and the need to do a lot of sensationalizing. It is a rare journalist, indeed, who can approach a topic / story with non-bias and seek only the truth, AND get support from media owners and editors.
Unfortunately, I think the western media is probably the biggest culprit in this mess, but certainly other media outlets are not innocent. Of course, with the advent of the internet, blogging, etc..., if one is willing to spend the time and energy to look, one can many times find the truth, but it is like digging for buried treasure - many more failures and frustrations than successes.

hj said...

In the West the media lacks integrity due to ulterior motives. In the developing world, journalistic integrity is a mere European myth. As the editor of The Guardian the largest English Daily told me after I asked him about Freedom of the Press after he had censored me.
His response was a terse laugh and "this is Tanzania".

Black Shepherd said...

yeah hj, a major issue , and the editor of the Guardian was on the money, is that "this IS Tanzania". trace the cash flow - many of the local papers are owned by senior CCM politicians or closely affiliated with politicians. look it up. there is minimal scope for free reporting when you are attempting to report on the man who controls your job.