What is news?
PETA KROST MAUNDER
For me, this had brought about some navel gazing that has more to do with having taken on this position as editor of your newspaper, as well as a few senior members of the community questioning a story we ran. They felt it wasn’t news.
I take everything readers and the community say with the seriousness it deserves because I believe I am doing this job for you. I am here to ensure that you have the best possible news and views about and concerning the community. It is my role to ensure that anything of relevance to the community is at your fingertips.
Having decades of experience in journalism, I believe I understand what news is. News is quite simply information about recent events or happenings. It is the stuff that people are interested in or would be interested in if they knew about it. It is truthful information that gets people thinking and talking.
Sometimes people do things that – for whatever reason – puts them in a bad light and word gets out and it becomes news. Today, it doesn’t take much for that to become news long before it hits the traditional media – into which the SA Jewish Report fits – when the Twitterati get hold of it. In that case, things can get totally out of hand and very nasty very fast.
A traditional medium, like this newspaper, must tackle stories that may or may not sit comfortably with everyone and, by giving all sides to a story, may not make everyone looking fabulous in the story. This is a reality. That doesn’t take away the fact that it is still news.
Remember when former Eskom boss Brian Molefe made excuses about being near the Gupta’s home in Saxonwold in Johannesburg 19 times and he claimed he regularly frequented a nearby shebeen… should the media have ignored that? They did the opposite; they made a proverbial meal out of it.
Perhaps they went too far… Maybe, but we wouldn’t do that. There are many scoundrels and bad news stories this newspaper has covered that have also been in the mainstream media. We would tackle any story with dignity, ensuring the people concerned are given the right to reply – without any ridicule.
When a newspaper starts self-censoring and cutting stories because someone doesn’t approve of it, that newspaper is in trouble.
My question to you is: Should we as a newspaper be turning our backs on news stories because someone did something that hurt and upset people, but which wouldn’t show them in a good light? If we do, at what point do we stop turning our back on people who do the wrong thing?
At what point do we stop telling the truth, and only tell the stories where everyone looks good? I understand this is a community newspaper, but how many of you would look forward to reading this newspaper if it always gave you rose-tinted “news” that made everyone look good?
When dealing with news, I always ask the following questions: Is this of interest to the community? Is the knowledge of this going to have any impact on them? What is the benefit of putting this out to the community? Will this inform, educate or entertain you?
My commitment to you is that I will always do my best to ensure the news we give you is fairly reported and give the relevant people a chance to comment or give their side of the story.
Peta Krost Maunder