I'd like a dose of hypocrisy please

I can't stomach the hypocrisy of spending the year writing critically about companies, then smiling prettily when there is cash on the table.
Read time 3min 10sec

It's that time of year again. Yup, ICT journalism awards time. Siemens has just opened the entries for its Profile Awards, Vodacom has just closed for entries to its awards and Telkom will no doubt soon solicit entries for its ICT Journalist of the Year awards.

I don't enter these things. I have, I must admit, in the past. If I recall correctly, I've never entered Telkom's awards. I've entered the Siemens awards once. I cannot recall ever entering the Vodacom awards and I did, some years back, enter and take runner-up position (or first princess as my colleague Kimberly Guest likes to call it) in the Call Centre Journalism awards.

The reason I don't enter these awards is simple. I can't stomach the hypocrisy of spending the year writing critically and occasionally down-right rudely (if it's a column/blog) about Telkom, Vodacom, and (not often admittedly) Siemens, and then smile prettily once there's cash on the table and say: "Oh, yes, I'd like an award please."

It's like being an activist for environmental issues and then entering an activism award sponsored by the very company you spend your life protesting against.

Samantha Perry, features editor, ITWeb

It just doesn't sit right. To be honest, I have less of a stomach problem with Siemens and Vodacom than I do Telkom. I resoundingly disapprove of Telkom's business policies, and its mission to milk as much as it can out of the SA cash cow before its de facto monopoly ends. And before you object, I have had this mission confirmed, off the record, by Telkom sources in the past. They may not say so publicly, but like any sensible company, Telkom is taking full advantage of its competitive situation, and rightly it should if it is to do its shareholders justice. It's not doing SA any justice, however, and therein lies my objection, and therein also lies my objection to entering its journalism awards and taking money from it. It's like being an activist for environmental issues and then entering an activism award sponsored by the very company you spend your life protesting against.

I walked out of Telkom's ex-CEO's speech at the most recent ICT Journalist of the Year Awards because I couldn't sit and listen to a long list of everything that Telkom has allegedly done for SA, when in reality it has cost us billions, and crippled us economically in untold ways. Having done that, I certainly couldn't enter said awards. For the record, I was there as a partner to someone who had entered, not as an entrant.

I would also like to clarify that I am not, by implication, calling every journalist who enters journalism awards a hypocrite. All of us are big enough and ugly enough to sort out our own moral issues. This is my opinion. Each and every other journalist will have their own.

The point of my column, I hear you ask? Well, actually, I'd like to thank the companies that do sponsor these awards that I refuse to enter, if only for their efforts to encourage quality journalism in this sector. I, however, would like to see awards sponsored and organised by more neutral bodies, where there is absolutely no glimmer of conflict of interest, or hypocrisy, or anything else beyond a clear motive to reward and encourage great journalism.

And thus ends today's stint on the soapbox. Comments, feedback and abuse can be sent to the usual address.

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