Ismail Lagardien's carousel of bias: A critical examination of journalism's role in the world of journalism

Ismail Lagardien.

Ismail Lagardien.

Published Nov 27, 2023


Ismail Lagardien's Carousel of Bias: A Critical Examination of Journalism's Role In the world of journalism, where narratives are crafted and opinions wield considerable influence, it is essential to scrutinize the conduct of those who shape public discourse.

However, a closer look at Lagardien's writings, reveals a concerning trend of baseless narratives and biased perspectives that demand critical examination. Much of his article and so-called ‘evidence’ relies largely on the agenda driven misinformed biased pieces written by Anton Harber, who portrays himself as being ‘cocksure’.

Ismail Lagardien, a writer for Daily Maverick, has taken centre stage in recent times, using his platform to launch scathing attacks on Dr Iqbal Survé, the non-executive Chairman of Independent Media.

Lagardien begins his discourse with a metaphorical carousel, positioning journalists alongside politicians, diplomats, business leaders, and communities.

He argues that journalists are not truly independent but are subject to the forces that turn the carousel.

While this observation is not entirely inaccurate, Lagardien's subsequent focus on social and historical influences serves as a smokescreen for the very biases he exhibits in his writing. In critiquing the reporting on conflicts in Western Asia, Lagardien singles out Western journalists like Robert Kaplan, Tom Friedman, and Francis Fukuyama, accusing them of relying on offensive orientalist work.

While legitimate criticism can be levelled against biased reporting, Lagardien's sweeping generalisations and labelling of journalists, raises questions about the objectivity of his own analysis.

Lagardien introduces the concept of journalism as creating an "imagined engagement" with events beyond the public's reach, likening journalists to shamans who journey to inaccessible worlds.

While acknowledging the importance of journalism, he questions the cultural values brought back by journalists from their encounters. This analogy, however, seems more like an attempt to undermine the credibility of journalists than a genuine exploration of their role.

A significant portion of Lagardien's criticism revolves around the issue of culture among journalists.

He accuses some journalists of remaining "indifferent to difference" and resistant to social and historical change. This generalization overlooks the diversity within the journalistic community and perpetuates an overly simplistic view of a complex profession.

Lagardien raises concerns about journalists who cling to outdated practices and perspectives, warning against the dangers of resisting change. While this critique may be valid in some cases, the application is broad and fails to acknowledge the evolving nature of journalism, or that sticking to the facts, reporting without opinion, and providing a broad overview of the news at hand, will never go out of fashion or style.

They are embedded in the code of conduct of every journalist.

The assertion, therefore, that journalists who learned four decades ago are still repeating the same actions, is misplaced. The crux of Lagardien's recent writings involves a sharp critique of Dr Iqbal Survé, accusing him of systematically destroying Independent Media and fuelling popular cynicism towards the media.

However, Lagardien provides little concrete evidence to support these claims, relying instead on sweeping statements that contribute to a narrative of destruction without a nuanced exploration of the challenges facing the general media industry.

In critiquing Ismail Lagardien's writings, it becomes evident that his analysis is marred by sweeping generalizations, his own biases, and a failure to engage with the complexity of the issues at hand.

Journalism, as a profession, requires thoughtful consideration and a commitment to truth rather than perpetuating predetermined narratives. Lagardien's call for journalists to be more considered and less cocksure applies equally to his own approach, urging a more nuanced and humble exploration of the dynamic landscape of media and its role in shaping public understanding.

Adri Senekal de Wet is the executive editor of Business Report.

Executive Editor of Business Report.