Columns 5.2.2014 08:00 am

Judgment day for journalists

Cliff Buchler.

Cliff Buchler.

I was appointed as a judge last week. No, not a presidential appointment, as I don’t possess the vital prerequisite of being a useful tool in the president’s survival kit.

My job was to judge journalists who entered an awards project.

The shock call to tackle this daunting task came from the training manager associated with a community newspaper group. Funny, she it was whom I rescued from the clutches of a soul destroying teaching profession of ill-disciplined snot-nosed brats, persuading her to brave the fun-filled, exciting, glamorous and well-paid world of journalism.

She’s become an astute editor, hence the added training portfolio.

Not unlike Judge MogoengX2, beneficiary of the president, she owed me a favour, so my appointment included chairing the panel.

She probably took into account my empathy with struggling journalists – and will surely give them the benefit of the doubt.

However, she had full confidence in the rest of the real professionals – past and present editors – who would carry me throughout the hearings – sorry, sessions.

The wily ex-pedagogue was fully aware of my shortcomings; same with a number of octogenarian judges: cataract eyes, smashed eardrums and memory loss.

So if there are bad or unfair decisions and journalists vehemently protest, she simply points a finger at the old fart who can’t see, hear or remember. She’s off the hook; a good lesson picked up from the president.

But seriously, despite the perception today’s generation can’t write, spell or read, the entries blew off our wigs. Okay, so the baddies were soon spotted and duly sentenced – sorry, spiked.

Quality material showed up among the finalists with no signs of Facebook or SMS speak, but good old-fashioned, carefully researched and well-written investigative pieces.

If these entries are anything to go by, newspapers – whether hard copy or digital – are in good hands. This would please the publishers and their tick birds. See, good newspapers mean healthy readership and advertising, translating into big boodle, and more beer money in journos’ tatty jeans pockets.

My only beef: the pay for judging newspapers, unlike that for the SA judiciary, is paltry.

Criminal, in fact. A case for Judge MogoengX2.

 

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