Why journalists should not come to the party

2015-01-18 15:00

A debate is raging in the media on whether journalists should belong to political parties and if they should wear party regalia.

Missing from the discussion is the most important part of the relationship: you, the reader. We would love to hear your thoughts.

Here are our views. Journalism and journalists cannot be objective – we are products of our history, our geography, our communities, our beliefs, our education. But journalism and journalists must be fair, accurate and balanced.

Accuracy means sticking to facts and presenting an honest portrayal of news. Fairness and balance means telling as many sides of the news as possible.

Journalists have political views, but these must not be foisted upon you. Our jobs as gatherers of information must be to provide for you, our readers, a fair and balanced portrayal of news.

How you use that information is up to you. This affects everything from how we report politics to how we report policy. Inevitably, there are multiple ways of thinking and good journalism presents you with a wide-enough view to get a full idea of society and the world’s debates on various topics.

We must not make decisions for you based on our political perspective, but give you a reading or taste of the South African body politic.

Of course, we have points of view and opinions, and these must be flagged in the opinion section – in City Press, that’s the Voices section. It is there to give space to very different political formations, including representatives of government.

In our view, journalists should not don political party regalia as we have to report all parts of South Africa’s exciting multiparty democracy.

We can’t ask our journalists not to belong to political parties, but we do require annual declarations so we can monitor for bias. All gifts, trusteeships and directorships are also declared annually to ensure that our journalism is as independent as possible.

Wearing one party’s colours on one’s sleeve hurts trust and carries the threat of bias.

Instead, we tie our colours to the South African Constitution and consider ourselves bound by its pillars and principles.

.?Share your thoughts on this issue with us at letters@citypress.co.za. Or SMS us on 34263 using the keyword MEDIA. SMSes cost R1.50 each

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