To my dying day, I will never give up on the ideals of the Freedom Charter’s vision for our beautiful country. A strange set of circumstances led me to a public life, and invariably talk radio: On 31 January 2010 I read a Sunday Times article about the President Jacob Zuma’s love child, and never suspected at the time that it would change my life for good, freeing my voice for the airwaves and as a social and current affairs commentator.
Furious, I ranted about the revelations in the article on Facebook writing: “Why does our president display such stereotypical bad behaviour — of a randy black womaniser? I feel ashamed.” I felt Zuma worsened the racial stereotype portrayal of black men as sexual delinquents with no regard for anybody other than themselves, and most disappointing for me was that he brought the entire nation of South Africa into disrepute undoing all of the good that he had done to rebuild his name following various scandals, most notably his rape trial.
A few days later the Citizen newspaper saw fit to prominently make my Facebook comments news highlighted on their front page. As I drove my son to school on that day I listened to one radio show host after another marvel at the leaked information, its frankness and the shame I expressed. After a few hours I issued an unequivocal public apology to the president for causing him and his family embarrassment due to my respect for the Presidency as an institution, but stayed true to my convictions by not withdrawing my social media statements, rather questioning the malice of the newspaper and its sources – and a mini media storm ensued.
Commentators debated on the use of a Facebook status as a news source, asking if it was ambush journalism, and there were arguments for and against the expectations of privacy on social media sites, irrespective of the privacy settings in place. Gill Moodie, an Internet journalist, summed things up by saying:
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