Saturday 31 May 2014

About the SACNS: What is our editorial policy?

Our Editorial Policy
The SACNS subscribes to a number of editorial policies.

Be International
While we have South African roots, we believe firmly in presenting the entire world to the entire world. Our audience and our subject matter is humankind itself. The essence of our reporting is that all mankind are inter-related as a human family: as brethren in pain, suffering and in kindness, truth, fidelity, and the gains we as a human family share. We believe that what happens in some remote part of Africa or Asia or South America can affect the entire world. Even an unvoiced thought can influence history. We therefore are members of humanity and citizens of humankind first and foremost, while certainly having a diligent degree of patriotism for Africa and for South Africa.

Do not Lie
We believe the job of media is not to assist campaigns or be popular. What we do is see through the veil of lies and tell the truth. If the truth is ugly then that is what it is, but it is still the truth. We at SACNS believe in reporting the truth and nothing but. Yes, we believe in debate and argument as these can sharpen the lens through which we all see the world, but the essence of what we do is report truth. That is in honesty the job of a journalist: to be an expert in truth, and the lens which enables others too see better what that real truth of matters exists upon. A journalist is best placed to tell the truth, and thus has a duty to humankind to do so conscientiously. This also places a duty on a journalist to be prudent in what they report. A good journalist is not so much defined by what they place upon the planetary record as by what they do not print or utter for anyone outside their strictest confidence to see. The ability to foster relationships and hold a confidence rather than breaking a trust, and rather than reporting a matter which is best left in the netherworld, and thus not reporting even a word of a matter all for the sake of integrity, is the core of the journalistic profession.

Be Patriotic
True patriotism, is like true love: loyal beyond anything but also honest beyond reason. The French are the most patriotic nation on the planet, and with good reason. True patriotism is critical, it sees the flaws of those nations it attaches to and it highlights the flaws of these long lived manmade creations, and in this long winding process, it thus fixes the flaws of nations and of individual human men and women. True love is not blind. True patriotism shines a light into darkness and fixes the object of its love. SACNS is patriotic about South Africa, about Sub-Saharan Africa, and of their peoples and beauty and of their horrible flaws. We as a policy believe that patriotism towards every nation we cover is essential, and beyond this: love in the patriotic sense of every person we cover is essential. We believe it is essential that should someone we have never met read an article we write about them, they should feel shocked, they should feel the text is not text at all but rather a fluid and ghostly mirror, which perfectly portrays who they truly are beneath it all, despite their airs and illusions. We believe in asking the questions that cut the soul, for to truly cut apart the blueprint of a human life, is the only true way to insure it's survival unto eternity, both in memory and so far as whatever sense of religion or spiritual life a person might have. Human beings have inside of them a desire to look within and a desire to seek truth and then to conform to it. The as-though-a-gospel every journalist tells with every word, is a fidelity to the truth of this human held place, which can be found in and of this imperfect perfect human inhabited world. That sort of faithfulness to integrity is the essence of the great profession of the modern day town messenger, the journalist.

Write with Hind Sight
Many journalists aim to influence others with their views. A history book if well written certainly learns lessons of events, but its author is powerless to change the events already unfolded. At SACNS we desire to write from that sort of perspective. We seek to write as those who are powerless, as though we were the unspoken thought of a dying man who is mute and deaf and blind and in a comatose state. We desire as a service to remove our own interests from a story: yes to be as critical as a wolf's teeth are sharp, and yes to be as kind as a lamb's wool is gentle to the touch, but to write as though all is lost and all is gained already. It is only by honesty, by portraying both those we see as good and those we see as bad with all of their observable flaws, that we truly can come to see truth. If I believe someone is good but has flaws or is bad but has good traits, yet retain this view despite the discrepancies, am I not disrespecting you if I refuse to grant you the opportunity to see both sides of a person by misconstruing the person? An intelligent person does not change their worldview on whim simply because human being are frail. If I support a public figure, I am just as likely to bring up their flaws as show their goodness.

Respect Privacy
There is nothing as important as the privacy of ordinary people. Public figures are in the public view, and are fair game, but an initiative such as ours which has such power to ruin a life, should be very cautious in ever reporting negatively of ordinary people who cannot easily fight back. Such reporting must always be the justified exception and not the rule.

Hold to business Ethics
At SACNS we believe in acting with integrity, punctuality, and in treating our readers with respect. Professionalism is at the heart of good journalism. We aspire to always be above the fray and to maintain absolute professionalism at all applicable times.

Stay Above the Fray/Be Noble
At SACNS is we love to create debate, controversy, and to present arguments and views you might not agree with but grow mentally from reading, but we also believe in acting in a responsible manner in our journalism. We are spectators of events, we are observers of the world. We report, and it is vital that in our reporting we remain objective and honest. We write not for a fight but for the growth of the human consciousness. We write with respect, both to our own writing and to the people who we write about. Every human person deserves to be portrayed honestly, this is basic respect.

Adhere to the rules of court.
"Police say they arrested protesters for disturbing the public order." Imagine if that were all you had to go with. Often on Twitter that is all many journalists say, we even might say that. Imagine now a different statement: "Police say they arrested protesters for disturbing the public order, but the lawyer for one of the arrested individuals say they were merely a by-stander and had been going to the shops to buy baby milk formula." Both statements are true, certainly some protesters were arrested for disturbing the public order, but one of them were not. Perhaps in fact none were arrested for that at all, but only on that pretence. At SACNS we believe in hearing both sides, and in going through the extra written and other sources to come to the truth before we report it. Yes, we certainly try to break news, but we try to report the truth and to gain several sources to figure out from the words itself and from the best interests of witnesses what really occurred.  If we at SACNS say "The protesters were arrested for disturbing public order", we want it to be because based on the facts before us that is exactly what really occurred. In law there are two man systems of truth finding: the one where the parties control the narrative, and argue a matter our, and the one where a truth finder investigates to make their own determinations, taking into account the arguments of both sides and what is likely to be true. SACNS believes that the second approach is the honest approach. Certainly we might say what both parties say in a matter and investigate if it is true, but we certainly are not intent on being anybody's fool. We merely see parties to a matter as possible frail guides to the truth of a matter.

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