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Pottinger not the onlyone to use fake news

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Just as Bell Pottinger has done, our competitors have used a fake news campaign to deliberately sully Independent Media’s name and that of myself.

Dr Iqbal Survé

I HAVE been reading with interest how Bell Pottinger used, not only their own platforms, but also those of media houses in an attempt to change South Africa’s narrative.

When the tide turned against them and they were unmasked for having spread fake news, they were rightly vilified for being agents working against the majority of South Africans.

Bell Pottinger, which was contracted by the Gupta family, has been condemned for using propaganda to influence the narrative around fraud, State and corporate capture.

They manufactured news and promoted the notion of White Monopoly Capital and supported Black Land First, among others.

This fake news was swallowed up and distributed by our media competitors, Naspers Media24, and their surrogate BizNews.

But they have also used fake news when the Sekunjalo-led consortium was purchasing Independent Media. They have used their considerable resources to malign Independent Media, and me as executive chairman of both Sekunjalo and Independent Media and in my personal capacity.

Their attacks became increasingly vicious and spurious after the sale of Independent Media was completed.

It has become clear to me that Naspers Media24 and their surrogate, BizNews, speak with a forked tongue when it comes to fake news: they attack Bell Pottinger for peddling fake news stories, yet they are guilty of doing the same.

They are using an apartheid-era style dirty tricks campaign and, by using their surrogate, share and spread untruths about us until they appear to be a true narrative.

The detractors of Independent Media are the alter ego of Bell Pottinger.

Just as Bell Pottinger has done, our competitors have used a fake news campaign to deliberately sully Independent Media’s name and that of myself.

Terry Bell, who was at a time a columnist under contract for Independent Media, works for Fin24 and City Press and I have an e-mail confirming he was contracted by Naspers Media24 to write negative stories about Independent Media and myself.

Even when presented with the truth he remains selective and twisted the facts in his reporting on his “fact-check” of my CV.

Of interest is that Naspers Media24 and a number of news websites duplicate and share these fake news stories.

Their writers are among those who consistently use fake news about Independent Media and myself in order to discredit us.

Clearly there are hidden agendas. Clearly they have an axe to grind, and the reasons are clear.

They feared a black-owned media company. Their propaganda and their poorly embedded message is that we (Independent) were “die swart gevaar”.

But what we are is a South African media company that strives to present the news accurately, without bias and to give everyone a fair voice. Our newsrooms have become diverse, both in terms of race and gender. And we have given people who were overlooked for years the opportunity to excel.

It was clear to me that our competitors did not like what we were doing, and so they intensified the attacks against us.

Many have swallowed what was presented to them, without realising that what our competitors are publishing about us was fake news stories.

They spread like a virus, with inflammatory articles republished among themselves. It has taken many years of investigation to clear our name and correct our reputation for their false news campaign was destructive, much like Bell Pottinger’s Gupta campaign was.

Independent Media and I have not been involved in any nefarious operations.

But it is of no interest to them (the detractors) that Sekunjalo and Independent Media have been cleared by the public protector and other regulatory agencies.

We have defended ourselves when competitors presented us negatively, and when we were vindicated, their silence spoke volumes about their biased, harmful and defamatory reporting. Readers have been led down the garden path by media houses which are intent on destroying that which becomes a threat to them.

Dr Survé is executive chairman of Sekunjalo and Independent Media. This is his response to an article on BizNews titled “Burying the Iqbal Survé ‘struggle doctor’ myth” by Ed Herbst.