When the fire is might­ier than the pen

While protests are nec­es­sary in any func­tion­ing democ­racy, it’s im­por­tant to un­der­stand the bound­aries of peace­ful protest and the me­dia’s role in giv­ing a voice to peo­ple’s con­cerns and hard­ships

CityPress - - Voices -

The SA Na­tional Ed­i­tors’ Fo­rum is out­raged by the lat­est spate of vi­o­lent at­tacks against jour­nal­ists cov­er­ing protests in the Tsh­wane Met­ro­pol­i­tan Mu­nic­i­pal­ity. Re­porters from var­i­ous news me­dia out­lets have been chased away by pro­test­ers, in­tim­i­dated with vi­o­lence, phys­i­cally at­tacked or in­tim­i­dated by po­lice of­fi­cers on the scene.

The fol­low­ing in­ci­dents have been brought to our at­ten­tion:

Power FM jour­nal­ist Tshidi Ma­dia was forced out of Soshanguve on Wed­nes­day and told to leave Mamelodi on Tues­day be­cause she was re­port­ing on the protests. Pro­test­ers threat­ened her and told her to leave the ar­eas.

eNCA re­porter Jody Ja­cobs and cam­er­a­woman No­luthando Hlophe were robbed at gun­point by a mob in Mamelodi af­ter a live cross­ing from the protests on Wed­nes­day evening. Two men walked up to them and threat­ened to shoot them if they did not hand over their equip­ment. The jour­nal­ists handed over their camera, tri­pod and mi­cro­phone to the rob­bers.

SABC jour­nal­ist Horisani Sit­hole had his hand bit­ten in Mabopane while try­ing to cap­ture a mob loot­ing a spaza shop owned by a for­eign na­tional. He had to re­ceive med­i­cal treat­ment.

News24 re­porter Jeff Wicks was assaulted on Wed­nes­day by a po­lice of­fi­cer in Ga-Rankuwa. The of­fi­cer wanted to pre­vent 1 In a world of hy­per­in­for­ma­tion, the val­ues of cred­i­bil­ity, in­de­pen­dence, ac­cu­racy, pro­fes­sional ethics, trans­parency and plu­ral­ism are those that will con­firm a re­la­tion­ship of trust with the pub­lic. 2the Next-level jour­nal­ism is distin­guished from other con­tent by vig­i­lant and dili­gent ques­tion­ing and ver­i­fi­ca­tion of ma­te­rial cir­cu­lat­ing on so­cial me­dia. It ac­knowl­edges so­cial Wicks from record­ing video of the po­lice shoot­ing rub­ber bul­lets at pro­test­ers. Of­fi­cers also con­fis­cated his phone and in­structed him to delete video footage and pic­tures.

On Tues­day in At­teridgeville, res­i­dents ac­costed EWN re­porters Cle­ment Many­athela and Kgothatso Mo­gale, and took their phones and video camera af­ter threat­en­ing them with a brick. They were forced to delete footage and me­dia as a source of in­for­ma­tion for fur­ther fact-check­ing and as a plat­form for lever­ag­ing pro­fes­sional con­tent. 3 The mis­sion of jour­nal­ism at this next level is to pos­i­tively serve so­ci­ety by pro­vid­ing high-qual­ity, ver­i­fied in­for­ma­tion and to es­tab­lish news brands as a trusted cer­tifi­cate of ori­gin for con­tent. 4 A re­quire­ment of next-level jour­nal­ism is that it goes be­yond ba­sic facts and en­ables and en­cour­ages anal­y­sis, con­tex­tual and in­ves­tiga­tive re­port­ing, and in­formed ex­pres­sion of opin­ion, mov­ing from the pro­vi­sion of news to knowl­edge that em­pow­ers. 5 Next-level jour­nal­ism should be driven by trust and the guid­ing prin­ci­ples of so­cial rel­e­vance, le­git­i­mate in­ter­est and truth­ful­ness.

At its meet­ing at the World News Congress in Carta­gena, Colom­bia, the board of the World Ed­i­tors’ Fo­rum en­dorsed five prin­ci­ples to help re­build trust in pro­fes­sional jour­nal­ism Th­ese prin­ci­ples are:

were then re­leased af­ter do­ing so.

News24 re­porter Karabo Ngoepe also had his phone con­fis­cated – by a po­lice of­fi­cer in Ga-Rankuwa, who forced him to delete pic­tures and video. The of­fi­cer took pic­tures of News24’s ve­hi­cle and threat­ened to “deal with” the jour­nal­ist.

A free­lance photographer from AFP had his cell­phone stolen while tak­ing pic­tures of the un­rest in Mamelodi.

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