Who’s the fake news

In Perdeby’s 12 March edition we published an article titled “SRC calls for first quarter student forum meeting” on the student forum meeting set to take place on the evening of 27 March. We approached the SRC for their plan of action so we could include some of this information in the article, as well as verify some facts we had already included. We received no response. The lack of response was indicated in the article as per section 1.8 of the South African Press Code.

But then Perdeby was mentioned in a tweet by SRC Secretary Soraia Machado claiming that we had published false information. This tweet was then responded to by the official twitter account of the SRC in which the SRC accused Perdeby of being “fake news”.

I find it highly problematic that a structure that is supposed to be an example of leadership on campus resorts to petty name calling on social media when it is clear their house is not in order when it comes to communication. It is even more worrying that they would use the term “fake news” when they don’t like what they read in the media. So this week I’ll use my editorial to give you the facts. On 21 February, SRC President Kwena Moloto, Perdeby news editor Ditebogo Tshaka and I had a meeting to discuss an already unfolding communication failure from the SRC’s side. Moloto agreed that there is a communication failure and cited the large volume of information they are faced with on a daily basis. Moloto suggested that we set up a WhatsApp group to better facilitate communication between Perdeby and the SRC.

This WhatsApp group includes myself, news editor Ditebogo Tshaka, SRC President Kwena Moloto, SRC Secretary Soraia Machado, SRC Deputy-secretary Kutlwano Mositi, and SRC member in charge of Marketing, Media and Communications Kyle Goosen. After the SRC posted on Facebook on 5 March that they would be holding a student forum, Tshaka contacted Mositi since he posted the message on behalf of the SRC. After not receiving a response, Tshaka sent a message on the SRC/Perdeby Coms Group that asked “Please send the SRC’s Plan of Action for the student. [sic]” on 8 March. Mositi responded and said “@Kwena please send it”. On 9 March, Tshaka sent an email to Moloto and posted on the WhatsApp group “@Kwena you’ve got mail” to notify the SRC that we had sent them an email. Tshaka contacted Moloto to inform him that we had until 17:00 to add comment before we went to print. We did not receive the plan of action in time to go to print, nor have we received it since then. The paper went to print on the evening of Friday 9 March.

To call us “fake news” and to say they had not received notification about this is completely untrue and damaging. Clearly it can not be claimed that Machado or Goosen have not heard about our enquiry. Furthermore, Perdeby subscribes to the South African Press Code and we are held to every rule of this code. We do this so that our news is as accurate as possible, that we hold credibility by acting ethically and lawfully, and report factually. We are accountable to the South African Press Council and the Press Ombudsman.

I expect an apology from the SRC regarding this matter. Perdeby has an 80 year history of bringing students news and we train our staff to very high standards to ensure we have quality content at the end of the day. I take claims about “fake news” very seriously. This can damage reputable news sources, and I will not have that done to Perdeby to protect a poor communication strategy from the SRC. I would also like to remind the SRC of their statement in their 1st Quarter report for Marketing, Media and Communications; “Aspects of student life, official business and all aspects of the SRC’s on goings; remain transparent and readily accountable to the student body, across all media platforms [sic]”. So be accountable, be transparent, and don’t make false claims against another student organisation if you cannot support them.

In other news, Perdeby has just come back from our annual training camp. I love this year’s editorial and I can see so much potential and passion in them. The weekend was a great success with our new development section formalising the training that we give to our staff to make sure that they are equipped with the best tools to do their jobs at the paper.

If you’d like to respond to any of the articles in this edition, or just get your voice heard, send a letter to the editor at perdeby@up.ac.za.


Go wild
Shaun Sproule

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