Wilson B Nkosi vs Daily Sun

Complainant: Wilson B Nkosi

Lodged by: Wilson B Nkosi

Article: Wilson B doesn’t like photos! – Guards stop people from taking his picture

Author of article: Mfanafuthi Nxumalo

Date: 26 March 2015

Respondent: Johan Vos, assistant editor at the Daily Sun

Complaint

Presenter at Metro FM, DJ and singer Wilson B Nkosi is complaining about a report in the Daily Sun of 3 March 2015, headlined Wilson B doesn’t like photos! – Guards stop people from taking his picture.

He complains that the story inaccurately and misleadingly stated that:

·         he had forbidden his audience to take photographs; and

·         the journalist had spoken to him or to the event organiser, Mrs Xoliswa Mkhize.

Nkosi adds that the article has caused (unnecessary) harm to his reputation.

The text

The story, written by Mfanafuthi Nxumalo, said that both Nkosi and Mkhize announced that no one was allowed to take pictures of his appearance at the One and Only club in KwaMashu. Security guards reportedly prevented the crowd from taking pictures, and many patrons were disappointed with the situation.

The arguments

Nkosi denies that the journalist spoke to him before or at the event.  “If he was at the show, he never came to introduce himself to me let alone ask me about taking pictures… Well, he wouldn’t have asked me anything about that because it never happened.”

He explains that, before his last song, “if you want pictures taken, we’ll do so after this song”. After the last song, he says he got off the stage, straight to where the people were.  “I spent [not]less [than]30 minutes taking pictures.”

Nkosi adds that at no stage did he speak to Mkhize in the time between their arrival and departure. “So, I don’t know what the author of the article means when he says Ms. Mkhize and I announced ‘…that no one was allowed to take pictures’.”

He says that people commented negatively on the story on social media.

Nkosi concludes: “Had [the journalist]said…the show was boring or that I’m not worth the time and money invested in me or anything subjective, I would have no problem with that at all.  But, to attack my person?  I can’t accept that…”

Vos says it was in the public interest to publish the article as Nkosi was a public figure. “Even more so, if the context of Daily Sun’s market is taken into consideration. He is a presenter at Metro FM and a well-known DJ.” He also argues that the content of the article is reasonably true as four witnesses corroborated the incidents.

Nxumalo says: “I overheard patrons complaining behind me and turned to look at them. [A] lady by the name of Lindiwe Mbatha (40) noticed that I was carrying a note book and she asked me whether I am journalist. Then I immediately asked for her comment about Wilson B Nkosi.” The article quoted her as follows: “We have been told not to come near him. We paid R100 to come and see Nkosi playing but now this is how we are being treated.”

The reporter says he has a sound clip in his possession of one of the witnesses talking to him and saying: “There was displeasure among patrons when…Nkosi refused photos being taken when he arrived at the venue and during his set… Just before the last two songs of his set, [Nkosi] reprimanded the crowd, saying that taking photographs disrupts him. He then said he will allow for it after his set.”

The journalist asserts that he did ask Nkosi for comment, and that he witnessed security guards preventing fans in the crowd taking pictures of him. “When fans insisted on flashing their cameras…five bouncers blocked the view and surrounded [him], leaving the fans disappointed.”

Nxumalo says he also witnessed Mkhize announcing that no one was allowed to take photos and apologising to fans for this, as reported in the article. He states: “After…Nkosi finished playing his set, I went straight to him and I introduced myself as Mfanafuthi Nxumalo from Daily Sun/Sunday Sun based…in the Durban offices. I asked for his comment about the fans’ earlier disappointment when they wanted photos of him. He said: ‘I don’t want to talk about this’.’’

The journalist adds that he also spoke to Mkhize after he had introduced himself to her as a journalist.

Regarding Nkosi’s claim that photos were taken with the audience, Vos argues that it is important to consider the timeline of the article. “This is the crux of the matter. The article said, ‘But Nkosi turned his back on his fans as soon as the camera started flashing’.”

Even though Nkosi denies this incident, Nxumalo says he witnessed it – and other people have corroborated his version. Vos argues the story stated that “cameras started flashing” (emphasis added). “Surely [this]cannot imply that photographs were taken only after…Nkosi [had]…performed. It doesn’t make sense if fans were only starting to take photographs of their beloved star after his gig… This shows that…photographs were taken or tried to be taken beforehand and…Nkosi turned his back.”

The deputy editor also notes the sentence in the article that reads: “For some reason it was so important to Nkosi that security guards prevented fans in the crowd from taking pictures!” He argues: “The words ‘in the crowd’ indicate that the action was happening during Mr Nkosi’s stage act, as there was a crowd during his performance.”

Vos concedes that the time frame should have been presented clearer and was “slightly lost in translation”.

The reporter says: “By [00:10] I left the venue without him having taken pictures with his fans. If he took photos, he would have taken them after I had left.”

Vos argues that the newspaper gave balance and fairness to its report in that it tried to get Nkosi’s side of the story (as stated in the article). “Although Nkosi is denying that our journalist spoke to him, there is no reason not to believe [Nxumalo]. The article wasn’t presented in a pejorative manner as the comment from Mrs Mkhize in the article would be a logical explanation for Mr Nkosi being camera shy. Mkhize is quoted in the article: ‘He is a shy guy but next time they will have time to take pictures with him’. It is also clear from Nxumalo’s timeline that he obtained this quote from Mrs Mkhize before Mr Nkosi decided to be in photographs later on, on the day of the event.”

Nkosi replies the pictures show that he still had his pair of headphones on, as he had just finished talking when he was photographed.  “The speakers are on stage and the people and I are standing literally about a metre from the stage.”

“So, how does [the journalist]explain the existence of these pictures [if]…Mkhize and I had made it clear that no taking of pictures was allowed?  Where were the five…bodyguards…when these pictures were taken? … [Did] the…bodyguards…[allow]Nxumalo near me to introduce himself and ask questions?  He must either be a very important…or a brave man for five…no-nonsense bodyguards to be that intimidated.”

Analysis

Contradictory arguments

There are discrepancies in/between both Nkosi’s and the Daily Sun’s arguments.

Nkosi Daily Sun
He motivates his statement that Nxumalo never spoke to him at the event by denying that he (ever) prohibited the taking of pictures. Yet, he also states that he allowed people to photograph him after his last song. This implies that the taking of pictures was not allowed during his show.

Also, even though Nkosi may not have spoken to Mkhize between their arrival and departure, that does not mean she did not know about his feelings regarding pictures during his show. Neither does it mean that she could not have made a statement independent of him.

 

Nxumalo states he approached Nkosi immediately after the show for comment, while he was still on stage.  He says by the time he left the venue, Nkosi had no pictures taken with his fans – if Nkosi allowed pictures, that would have happened after he had left.

 

On the other hand, Nkosi’s evidence is that he got off the stage “straight to where the people were” immediately after his last song.

 

Someone is not telling the whole truth.

 

 

My considerations

Based on Nkosi’s own admission that he allowed pictures to be taken after the show, I have little doubt the reporting (that Nkosi did not want people to take pictures of him while he was performing) was reasonably true. I also take into account the statement by Vos that four sources corroborated Nxumalo’s information. I have no reason to disbelieve these sources.

I also accept that photographs were indeed taken after the show (Nkosi sent me a few examples of such pictures).

However, I am uncomfortable with Nxumalo’s explanation (that if Nkosi allowed pictures, it would have happened after he had left – but he had no knowledge of this). This implies that he was not aware that pictures were going to be taken – and yet, in his response to the complaint he quotes someone as saying, “Just before the last two songs of his set, [Nkosi] reprimanded the crowd, saying that taking photographs disrupts him. He then said he will allow for it after his set.” (My emphasis.)

By his own testimony, Nxumalo admits knowing of at least the possibility that Nkosi would allow pictures after the show. I therefore do not believe that he was unaware that pictures were going to be taken, and yet he never reported this. The story was too good to allow tampering by the whole truth – which amounts to a material omission.

This means that, while the story was accurate in that Nkosi in all probability prohibited the taking of pictures during his show, it was also unfair as the reporter neglected to balance it out by reporting that pictures were taken after the event. I have little doubt that this omission has indeed caused Nkosi some unnecessary harm.

I have no grounds on which to decide whether or not the reporter tried to get comment from Nkosi, as it is merely his word against that of the entertainer.

Finding

The story accurately reflected the notion that Nkosi prohibited the taking of pictures during his show. This part of the complaint is dismissed.

The story should have included Nkosi’s announcement that an opportunity for pictures would be allowed after the show, and that this indeed happened. This neglect was unfair towards Nkosi as it amounted to a material omission – which resulted in the breach of the following sections of the Press Code:

·         2.1: “The press shall take care to report news…fairly”; and

·         2.2: “News shall be presented in context and in a balanced manner, without any intentional or negligent departure from the facts whether by…material omission…”

There is no finding on the complaint that the reporter did not ask Nkosi for comment.

Seriousness of breaches

Under the headline Hierarchy of sanctions, Section 8 of our Complaints Procedures distinguishes between minor breaches (Tier 1), serious breaches (Tier 2) and serious misconduct (Tier 3).

The breaches of the Code, as outlined above, are Tier 2 offences.

Sanction

Daily Sun is directed to:

·         apologise to Nkosi, prominently and on the same page, for neglecting to state that he did allow the taking of pictures after his show, and for causing him unnecessary harm by omitting this fact;

·         prepare the text and submit it to this office prior to publication, ending with the following sentence: “Visit www.presscouncil.org.za for the full finding; and

·         publish this apology also on its website – if the offending article appeared online.

Appeal

Our Complaints Procedures lay down that within seven working days of receipt of this decision, either party may apply for leave to appeal to the Chairperson of the SA Press Appeals Panel, Judge Bernard Ngoepe, fully setting out the grounds of appeal. He can be contacted at Khanyim@ombudsman.org.za.

Johan Retief

Press Ombudsman

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *