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Reporting on political discourse without fear nor favour


Johnny Masilela   l   Views: 86

One of the tricky challenges faced by editors is that readers, especially those with vested political interests, read articles about opponents in a manner that is calculated to misinterpret facts.

In recent weeks we ran with front page articles about first the EFF, the ANC and then the DA.

By sheer coincidence, last week’s front page, “Political change”, was published at a time The BEAT was accused of being sponsored by the DA.

I am not sure what our accusers think about the latter front page, but robust debate took place between the editor on the one hand, and reporters on the other.

Originally, we had decided as early as Monday, 20 November, that we would place a striking picture of a shack toilet next to a RDP house in the township at Bela-Bela. 

Both the story and pictures were captured by TK Mashaba.

But alas, much later that day Mzamane Ringane filed a story about personnel changes at the Modimolle-Mookgophong Local Council.

The changes came about after the energetic Johan Abrie had resigned as the Speaker, and was replaced by Phagameng township businessman and former Chief Whip, Dingaan Motshwene.

Instead of the original fall-back “Mkhukhu (shack) toilet” front page, we took a gamble with   “Political change”.

Oops! The story appeared the same week that the EFF leadership at Bela-Bela ran a piece on its Facebook page accusing us of being sponsored by the DA.

With the editor-reporters collective having agreed on the changes ringing within the corridors of the Modimolle-Mookgophong Local Council, you as the reader can make up your mind as to whether this was alleged sponsorship, or sheer news billing.

And oh, two weeks previously, we went for broke on the front page, reporting on the EFF’s land occupation at Bela-Bela, with the first story headlined “Eyeball to Eyeball”, and the follow-up lead titled “EFF Bombshell”.

One wonders if folks at the ANC may or may not perceive these screaming headlines about the EFF as “sponsorship” of some kind.

Talking about the ANC, a couple of weeks ago The BEAT team went for broke in terms of front page headlines and pictures, following the postponement of the regional elective conference.

The story was written by Lizzy Bapela and the pictures captured by Andries van der Heyde.

Thinking out loud, we wonder if someone at the DA, or indeed the EFF, suspects “sponsorship” of some kind over the massive coverage from the ANC’s summit.

You know, leaders from all walks of life visit The BEAT offices week in and week out.

Unfortunately many leave here disappointed when we refuse to be used as a platform to attack political opponents.

Political parties are welcome to articulate their events and programmes, as long as this is newsworthy such as we had on the front page from the EFF, ANC and DA in recent weeks.

Just a reminder to readers and potential advertisers, we have started working on The BEAT’s special edition of the year in review, in terms of highlights and lowlights in the fight against crime and so on.

This shall be in the form of as souvenir edition many readers would love to keep for a much relaxed Christmas reading.         

Write to the Editor at beateditor@gmail.com or PO Box 16 Bela-Bela 0480.

4 months ago       30 November 2017