Biz-Community (Cape Town)

6 February 2013

South Africa: I Hate the Press...

opinion

Yes, I know, we twist what you say and of course we lie like a cheap watch - or worse, like a politician...

The point is we don't need to lie; we just need to talk to your spokespeople, especially if they're angry or upset...

Even better is when you say 'No comment' - that speaks volumes to consumers...

The point is if you don't speak to the press when they come knocking AND tell the truth, then be prepared for them to start digging on their own.

Yesterday the mother of a 13-year-old Parktown Boys' pupil mother called the John Robbie show to report an incident where her 13-year-old son had been subjected to bullying and, even worse, a forced run in the heat.

The run led to the boy having to receive urgent medical attention, especially as it appears he has a heart condition. The bullying and this incident led to the parents taking the child out of the school - surely something no-one does lightly.

He's on... He's off... Now he's... and off

This story went on air during prime time radio and around 7am John announced that the head boy of the school had called in and would be coming on air. Half an hour went by... and nothing. John then announced that apparently the principal had forbidden the head boy to talk to the media. John then said the principal would come on. But silence, during which John of course had quite a lot to say.

Was what was said correct? Who knows? You only heard one side. Later the school's governing body chairperson issued a statement saying, 'The school knows nothing about the alleged bullying'. Then the mother comes on the air to say that just two days after the incident her husband called the principal who allegedly 'protected' the bullies and justified their actions.

Again another statement from the school saying 'the run' is the normal punishment for not attending prefects' assembly, which apparently the child involved had missed. Did they really think this would make the story go away?

When silence is just plain STUPID!

You have to know that whenever there's a child involved with the word 'bullying' attached, the school is never going to look good. The only chance they have is to jump in there fast with the TRUTH and nothing but the TRUTH.

If there's been bullying - and apparently this kid had been bullied over his weight, amongst other things, then the school must investigate fully and if the claim is found to be true, admit this and give their stand on the issue. If the claim is untrue, then they have to prove this also.

What I find amazing is that a few years ago the same school made major headlines over a similar incident, which couldn't have been handled worse, even making Carte Blanche and every major media in the country. Did they learn? Obviously not.

The moral of the story is the media is merely a mouthpiece for you to tell your story - but refusing to talk is tantamount to admitting guilt and lying, well that's just plain stupid...

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