LETTER: Paper should balance bus news

2015-11-24 06:00

I recently appealed to the Press Ombudsman regarding what I regard to be unbalanced coverage in People’s Post.

I noted that whilst People’s Post covered the City council’s appeal of the High Court judgement against the council in relation to the controversial BRT route planned for Wynberg, your paper did not cover the earlier High Court victory for the South Road Families’ Association (SRFA).

The High Court judgement is significant as it questions the City council’s limited interpretation of public participation: tenders for the controversial BRT route had closed, zoning was altered and properties were demolished prior to public participation.

Transport for Cape Town has admitted it cannot provide any comparative costing for a road projected to cost R209m for the South Road-Brodie Road couplet section alone.

The very nature of public participation across Cape Town is at stake.

I further noted that People’s Post additionally ran an article promoting the council’s MyCiTi buses as eco-friendly, wherein the use of greener fuels was cited, but the council has paradoxically failed to undertake any environmental impact assessments for this controversial BRT route that will cross wetlands.

A People’s Post reporter undertook to do a follow-up article on the neglected council-owned properties affected by this controversial BRT route, but the follow-up article has yet to appear some weeks since this undertaking was made.

I fear that, considering the above and preceding articles inappropriately favouring the actions of the council and subcouncil – such as the opening of a crèche in Durban Road opposed by the local community but bulldozed through by subcouncil 20 – People’s Post stands to simply become a notice board for anti-democratic, feudal-type functionaries who are equivalent to the sheriff of Nottingham.

I ask that you balance your coverage, particularly considering the Mail & Guardian’s recent exposé of the council’s actions in Bakoven, which are familiar to Wynberg residents: in response to a question on possible party funding from the developer of 27 Orient Road (who has left the public pavement in an appalling state that blocks pedestrian traffic), councillor Elizabeth Brunette chose to swear at her constituents, committing crimen injuria and consequently receiving an official reprimand. We need to know of both good and grave matters that concern where we live – please report on these matters from the community’s perspective too, and not solely from a blinkered, council-provided viewpoint.

Darron Araujo, Email

A lot of work goes into putting ‘People’s Post’’s 10 editions together every week and a number of factors determine whether a story makes it onto a page – meeting deadlines being one of the most important factors.

News of the High Court victory for the SRFA reached our newsroom the Monday of the judgment after the newspaper had been sent to print. News of the City’s decision to appeal also came on deadline, but we made space on a page that had not yet been sent to the printers. A spokesperson for the SRFA was contacted telephonically to ensure that we ran a balanced story. The SRFA has also had plenty of coverage in ‘People’s Post’ over the past few years.

The greener MyCiTi buses was considered newsworthy and ran as a general story in various editions. It was of interest to our readers and had no direct relation to the SRFA.

Congratulations to the SRFA on its latest victory in court (see article on page 5).

– ED

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