This Is The Guy Who Duped HuffPost SA With The ‘White Men Shouldn’t Vote’ Blog – Verashni Pillay Responds [Video]
Story from: 2oceansvibe.com
If you somehow missed the whole Shelley Garland fiasco over the weekend then hell, you must have been off the radar.
There’s much catching up to do, and I suggest you start by reading Tom Eaton’s piece, titled “The Huffington Ghost: A New Low For SA Media“.
I’m going to assume, from this point onward, that you’re familiar with the story and get to the news that broke last night.
After some pretty intense sleuthing work, Huff Post SA managed to track down the man who submitted the story under the name Shelley Garland.
That would be 37-year-old Marius Roodt, “a researcher at the Centre for Development and Enterprise (CDE), a prestigious think-tank in Parktown, Johannesburg”.
Or should we say former researcher, because he resigned yesterday. First up how Huff Post SA found him:
He was identified after the email address was digitally traced back to him and his identity was confirmed with facial recognition technology…
He denies that he or his alter ego were angry or that he has used the “Shelley” persona before, insisting that he just made her up. The profile picture HuffPost published shows a woman with heavy makeup, red lips and a floral blouse, which Roodt says was a costume he previously wore to a party. “Garland was my mother’s maiden name . . . Shelley . . . well, ja,” was how explained the creation of his alter ego.
There’s an almost 10-minute video interview with Roodt, which we can’t embed, so to check that out click the image below and settle in:
So he gets a grilling, apologises repeatedly, and regrets his actions in case you can’t be bothered.
Having kept a pretty low profile since it emerged that they had made a blunder, Huff Post SA editor Verashni Pillay penned a post detailing what she has been through.
Some of that below:
If you’re wondering why I have not spoken sooner, it’s because I’ve been listening and trying to understand. Many things went wrong but here’s what I could have done better.
- Content of the blog: even if the identity was not in question, it required far more robust discussion in the newsroom and very careful framing if we did decide to publish it.
- I did not make it clear enough in my initial response that I absolutely do not agree with the disenfranchisement of any group of people. I don’t hate white men.
- Editing my initial response. Even though I made a note about the edit, I realise this may have come across as inauthentic and I am deeply sorry for that.
- While ID checks and verification was not part of our original process or that of any blogging site I know, I could have expected this and catered for it in an environment of fake news and media attacks…
Despite the pressure for me to recant my thoughts in my initial response I cannot, authentically, do that.
I still believe that despite the gains for equality and universal human rights in the last century, the fact is that white men still enjoy disproportionate power. And yes, I believe that a loss of oppressive power is necessary to create a truly level playing field.
I believe black pain is real and black tax a reality for almost every black South African I know, whether or not they’re part of this feted black middle class…
What Roodt did was wrong. But it does not exonerate me.
If you witnessed the social media bloodbath since the story broke, you’ll know that there has been no shortage of calls for Verashni to be sacked.
Typical Twitter lynch mob behaviour, but how is it that Roodt was (we assume) forced to resign when the biggest oversight wasn’t made on his part?
He wrote under a pseudonym and tested the editorial checks in place at some of our local media outlets. What happened once the post went viral isn’t his fault, and he wasn’t the one posting glib tweets about how much traffic the story was driving to his site.
[That would be Sipho Hlongwane, head of the blogging division at Huff Post SA]
Mistakes happen, introspection is required, but to paint Roodt as the guilty party just seems a little odd to me.
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