For quite some time now, mainstream media house, as well as other forms of local media, have demonstrated a willingness to publish columns in cases where a writer has deliberately taken a quote out of context and used it in a manner that completely distorts the meaning of the actual quote.
Although this practice technically passes the test for defamation, its spirit and intent remain to be one of misrepresenting a person’s statement to the public.
By “misrepresenting”, I mean that, in principle, the writer is lying to the public about what another person meant, even though the quoted statement is an accurate representation of what was said. Without question, it is important for the media to be a voice for as many people as possible.
However, there is a serious problem when the media allows itself to become a platform for the promotion of misrepresentations, distortions and blatant lies. Allowing this practice within the confines of an “opinion piece” isn’t sufficient excuse, either.
Disinformation and misrepresentation are still disinformation and representation, whether placed within a news report or an opinion piece, are they not? Surely, principle alone demands that media houses publish both news and columns that meet a minimum standard of integrity … Or, does the pursuit of profit and political agendas by way of maximising readership trump all other objectives?