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Pamensky story unnecessary and unjustified

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I’m referring to the article dated titled “Pamensky admits to ratifying Eskom’s dodgy R43 million New Age deal” (SA Jewish Report, 8 November 2019).
by Angie Segal, Johannesburg | Nov 21, 2019

While I understand that the SA Jewish Report is a respected paper covering news relevant to the Jewish community, I feel that higher degrees of sensitivity could be used when publishing certain stories.

The length and “airtime” given to the Pamensky article feels unnecessary and unjustified.

We’ll all be fully informed about Pamensky in the national newspapers, we don’t need our community paper to fulfil that role.

The bottom line is that there won’t be a Shabbos table this week that won’t be discussing that article. So as the editor of a Jewish community newspaper, I guess I’m asking you to really dig deep and ask yourself if a story like this is necessary, or if you should and could rather focus on stories that unite, not divide our people – of which there are many. Yes, perhaps not as “juicy”, but they certainly won’t lead to sin.

Perhaps it’s also your responsibility as the official newspaper of the Jewish community to enquire about the halachic parameters in which publishing articles that will lead to lashon hara (derogatory speech about a person) are allowed. I would be interested to know.

People will treat any negative story like a tabloid saga. It fuels rumour, and stimulates lashon hara – a most grievous – if not the most grievous – sin in our Torah.

I’m not suggesting that you falsely publish stories or limit freedom of speech. Perhaps just re-think the wider ramifications of publishing a story whose only outcome is to name and shame a fellow member of our community, a fellow member of klal Yisrael (Jewish peoplehood).

The rest of the world does a good enough job of slandering us in the media on a daily basis, why do it to ourselves? 

The SA Jewish Report puts a great deal of effort in deciding whether to cover such stories or not, but in this case it was very clear that the person concerned is part of the community and what he has done has huge national and communal ramifications. We would be remiss in not covering it. If we were to ignore it or whitewash it, how can we expect our readers to trust us? Suffice to say, we literally gave you the bare bones of the story, without any of what you call the “juicy” details. – Editor


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