Friday, March 02, 2007

Perlman rides off into a glorious sunset

John Perlman, in the news the last few months in connection with the SABC blacklist saga, has tipped his hat and rode off into the proverbial sunset this morning (OK, it was a bit early in the day for the sunset image...)

I must say he played out his last month or so at the SABC with admirable grace. He must have been tempted to abuse his microphone to get a stab in at the national broadcaster. Instead he stood by his principles at the beginning of the whole saga, when he must have known it could be to his own detriment. He stood up to be counted by confronting the SABC (his employer) spokesperson with the fact that he himself has been instructed to avoid a number of commentators. He managed separating personal interest from public interest.

Defending and fighting for his position in the SABC would have elicited a lot of public sympathy, but was secondary to the principle of freedom of expression and the free flow of information. Thus he has sacrificed his position for the greater good. What a pity that the giant SABC seems not to have learned anything out of the whole saga. I can understand that Perlman decided 'to hang up his mike'. He's done everything that could be expected of him in standing up to the SABC's arrogant attitude as it ignores it's duty to inform the public with balanced and critical reporting.

I had the privilege of one or two brief encounters, never in person, with John Perlman in my past position as spokesperson for the University of Pretoria. I have experienced him as a courteous, knowledgeable and fair journalist. A journalist who could be tough, but not in a rude John Robbie sort of way.

Apparently he signed of by thanking listeners 'for having him', no last-minute stings. What does he plan to do next? ( "What I am going to do this weekend is go to the Drakensberg, then I am going to go to the Pilanesberg and then I am going to go to the Kruger National Park and I am going to think very carefully about what I do next,". How come I'm jealous?

I do hope he ends up in some kind of similar role, just with a different media entity. That's probably hoping for too much. I suspect that he'll end up in the private sector. I wait in suspense. In the mean while the SABC has an excellent replacement for Perlman in the person of veteran anchor Jeremy Maggs. The latter must feel slightly ill at easy in filling the shoes of a great media personality who was basically pushed out of the SABC for doing what is right. But one can off-course not put the blame on Maggs. It lies with the higher ups at the Corporation, and a certain Mr. Zikalala.

For previous coverage in this blog on this sorry saga, go here.

For some coverage of John Perlman, the former (damn!) SABC radio anchor, and his departure have a look at:

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