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If you don’t support the media, you don’t support y...

Defend Truth


If you don’t support the media, you don’t support your own future


Fran Beighton is the Maverick Insider General Manager at Daily Maverick.

To the big business big-wigs: Your continued operation was made possible by the media. You would be wise to remember that.

First published in the Daily Maverick 168 weekly newspaper.

Four years ago, two whistleblowers risked everything by leaking the #GuptaLeaks to Daily Maverick, which, in turn, immediately shared them with amaBhungane and, later, News24.

The publication of the first #GuptaLeaks story on 1 June 2017 was a key moment in the long media battle to hold those in power to account. The best journalists in our nation came together and mined these emails, building piece by piece a picture that filled in the detail of much of the Guptas’ looting of the state, hand in hand with powerful officials and a patronage network. Our state had been captured, almost entirely.

Journalism with a commitment to unveiling the truth is one of the pillars of democracy, and South Africa’s case shows just how deep the corruption can go – corruption that gets covered up unless brave journalists, and the still uncorrupted institutions of the state, bring it into the light of day. The report on State Capture by the then public protector, Thuli Madonsela, was filled with references to work done by investigative journalists such as amaBhungane. Her report led to the Zondo Commission now unpacking the corruption first sniffed out by journalists.

Without such work, one can imagine a South Africa in which Jacob Zuma is not in prison. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma is president. There is no Commission of Inquiry into State Capture. The Guptas are living large in Saxonwold, continuing to plunder what’s left of the state coffers. State security is used against civil society. The humanitarian crisis that unfolded as the result of last week’s unrest is our nation’s norm.

It’s difficult to calculate or even fathom the cost of State Capture. Some estimates say it cut at least 4% of GDP growth since 2015 – that’s R280-billion per year. The match to this particular poverty tinderbox? Our current level of youth unemployment: 70%.

For anyone who has asked over the past week, “What are we going to do?”, who has tried to regulate emotions as they oscillate between anger and despondency, for everyone who has felt helpless, our suggestion: employ someone, contribute to someone’s education and support the media. The only reason Daily Maverick still exists is because of the support of a handful of readers who have become members, and the few businesses brave enough to advertise with us.

Corporates all over this country swing their big bank balances around, caring more about the bottom line than the poverty line. Sadly, the big bank balance doesn’t translate into any show of corporate courage. So many of these businesses that we have approached have declined to support Daily Maverick through advertising because we’re “too political”. Our response? Imagine if we weren’t.

To the big business big-wigs: Your continued operation was made possible by the media. You would be wise to remember that.

Stop hiding behind the excuse that it’s too political. In South Africa, everything is political, all the time. It’s time to show that your commitment to South Africa is as big as your bank balance. Buy an ad in DM168, donate to your investigative unit of choice, become a member of Maverick Insider.

At this stage, there is only one side to take. One would expect by now everyone would understand, but let me spell it out for you: by not supporting the media, you are not supporting your own future. DM168

This story first appeared in our weekly Daily Maverick 168 newspaper which is available for free to Pick n Pay Smart Shoppers at these Pick n Pay stores until 24 July 2021. From 31 July 2021, DM168 will be available for R25 at Pick n Pay, Exclusive Books and airport bookstores.


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All Comments 4

  • Yuuuup – good luck with that Fran! The big business old boys club exists because of government, not despite it. When I am free to invest my own money anyway I see fit, I’ll consider what government has to say. When I can run my own mom and pop bank. I’ll be interested in hearing what big business has to say. Until then, asking the wolves who guard the hen house to pay to be made to go away is never going to happen. Ever. And THAT is why you are being supported by us chickens.

  • Yes, that is exactly right. Trouble is, big business has lost the plot. Driven by profits, nothing that doesn’t directly improve the bottom line is supported. Businesses need skilled workers and professionals to survive, but the contribution to education is small. Businesses need good health care so they have healthy staff, and also to look after the fallout related to their products (particularly alcohol), but make very small contributions. We have had many loud protestations from the liquor industry about lockdown prohibitions, but I have never heard any offer by them to provide clinics to care for alcohol-related hospitalisations. Sadly, most big businesses will mechanise because a small staff complement is what the “analysts” are baying for, and because it removes difficulties associated with dealing with people , but they will seldom realistically assess the impact on the communities they once employed. Just look at Musk and Bezos flying around in space at a cost of billions of dollars in a world suffering under covid, poverty, increasing environmental devastation and political instability, and you get the picture of how little big business cares.

  • Isn’t it also the media that accepts advertising for unproven pseudo-scientific medical treatments, oils and vitamins? That’s why I am supporting DM and not the Huisgenoot – it is for ethical media and balanced reporting, insights etc, not to make a quick buck on questionable marketing of some oil for aches and pains (No wonder that people don’t have a clue what to believe for vaccines!). Ignoring that some DM Editors have a specific narrative and that there seems to have been some censorship within DM in the past – in the end your actions back up your cause, veritatis (E.g. as was evident during the Jacques Pauw saga). You have done a great job for SA – Keep it up!

  • But it is OK for big business to support political parties either directly or through grand dinner parties each out bidding who gets to sit at the main table! Cannot wait to see which bank/s and big business are donating to political parties when such donations have to be disclosed.

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