Emelia Sithole Tomm Kristiansen

POLITICAL REPORTING
Training manual

How this manual is organised

The manual comes into parts: the first part comprises a textbook for use by both trainers and trainees. The textbook contains definitions and details the different facets of political and local government reporting. The second part of the manual comprises the teaching guide for trainers. The structure of the guide can be adapted in a standalone political reporting course spread over three weeks. As it is a guide, there is no fixed timetable and no fixed examples to allow for flexibility and creativity on the part of the trainer.

Reporting on politics – A Textbook
Definitions
There are two types of political journalists. One is the investigative reporter, digging up stories like Watergate and corruption in governments. The other is the presidents microphone holder, a servant of the authorities writing down all that comes from his master’s voice. Most reporters operates between them. The newspaper’s economy, the editor’s courage and the journalist’s integrity decides to which direction the reporter leans. Political journalism is its own genre with a long tradition for observation and reporting on parliaments and governments decision making. «Political reporting» is, by definition, the journalistic monitoring and description of the use of power, managed by the State and its offices, on behalf of the public. Politics often seems to be leaders constantly competing, having conflicts with other parties or own fractions. The use of power, which should be in favour of the people, often seems to be a struggle for personal influence. As in other parts of the society - among families as tribes - the deeper meaning of political activity is to distribute and share the national resources and regulate the collective behaviour in the society. The successful realisation of this depend on the existence of sanctions, rewards and penalty. The political reporting is to describe how-when-wherewhy it is done, and by whom. Without media we would not understand the discussions and decisions taken, and the government would not know about the reactions and the social policies.

Setting the agenda Media tells us what to think about, and therefor setting the agenda for public discussions, decide peoples knowledge, attitudes, opinions and behaviour. When politicians are forced to honesty, they admit the independence of media: What on in media, is what they have to react to. Politicians often use media as informers from the grassroots. But are media their megaphone or loudspeaker?

Every citizen ought to have a say in the affairs of the state. Journalists are those to do it. But not as a tool for decision makers. Journalist’s work is to set the agenda for discussions, at home, among friends and neighbours, at work, in the society. Politics is a game of competing ideas and interests in which the people have to make a choice. Media reports must therefor be fair enough to present all sides, and provide enough education by emphasising substantive issues of social and economic development.

The reporter’s duty is to inform about decisions of public interest, report on the struggle of power and influence, misuse of power. The journalist’s task is to link responsibility to those in power and behind investigate what lies behind their decisions. It is to be done in an independent way, but not by being a part of the opposition. They also need the press as a watchdog! What is «political reporting»? Political reporting refers to reportage covering authorities’ decision and all events related to the body politic. Democracy demands national and local systems of government hence political reporting is an area of interest journalists cannot afford to ignore as decisions that affect people’s lives and character of society are being taken in those national and local systems of government. When Zimbabwean soldiers fight in Congo, the reports from the battlefield are news story with foreign aspects. But the involvement in the Congo-war had great influence on the national debate. The reactions among people - the voters - had great impacts on the political atmosphere in the country. Is can’t be excluded from the work of the political reporters, especially because the news coverage was the only open space for different opinions.

The breakdown on the international finance markets and crisis on stock exchanges in Brazil, Tokyo and throughout Europe in October 1998 had consequences also for national governments international connections, import/export, investments, budgets etc. News from the finance markets is therefor also a vital subject for the political reporting. The business sector has often demands to the governments and parliament decisions. It’s impossible to set up a border between economics and politics when it comes to journalism.

Types of reporting
Political reporting contains minutes from parliament, presidential statements, press meetings, criticism from opposition, public debates or panel discussions.

Political reporting in Africa
The traditional political reporting is developed in USA and England. Others have copied their style. Often we have copied too much. A major African problem is an overall adoption of European and American ideas of style, politics and form. During the Codesa-negotiations in South Africa (for a transitional constitution) the journalist were looking to Washington, London and Geneva to find examples of democratic constitutions. But did they ever look to Africa’s own traditions for ruling a society? The African way of finding consensus, «ubuntu» and other values should be interesting subjects for a new African journalism. Can ideas from the extended family, from the chiefs and the elders give directions to an African way of planing social security, power sharing, voting system, checks and balance.

News Definitions

Types of news
The evens itself is not «news» in our context. «News» is the journalistic motivated report on an event. You better ask: What is journalism? News are the events seen through the eye, the mind and of an journalist. Many lecturers have tried to find good definitions. Here are some: «News is any fresh or unusual event.» “News is anything which interests a large part of the community and which has never been brought to their attention” “News is the difference between the world yesterday and the world today.” «News is something someone somewhere wants to suppress. All the rest is advertising.» One of the main authorities in the old world, Oxford English Dictionary, describes news as «the report or account of recent events or occurrences, brought to or coming to one as new information; new occurrences as a subject of report or talk.» News is too complex to fit into a brief definition. But three elements are essential: INTEREST - NEWNESS - COMMUNITY Interest: Nobody will buy a boring newspaper. The story has to be about something, which will interest the readers. Or the story has to be written in a way that creates interest. Newness: If the readers haven’t read about the subject it is new to them, even if the activity the article describes is old.

Community: Who are the readers: old or young, living in towns or villages, well or poor educated, men or women. We need to know the interests of the readers, or at least: What is interesting for them. «News» is a modern word, but the distribution of opinions, facts and rumours is old. News have been spread with drums, through the conversation after church and during the old men’s chat under the trees. In Ghana the bell-ringers have had a specific job: They gathered the people in villages and small towns to proclaim important messages from the authorities. This information was not to be discussed. The news represented «the truth», and the information was brought in a powerful way: the king’s men with their bells. Authorities use to handle the newspapers as their bell-ringers. They decided what to be reported. They have been used to talk through media without opposition. They «used» the newspapers. Many of today’s politicians are frustrated that this time is gone.

At their best, today’s editors ask critical questions and in that way reduce their influence. At their worst they continue to quote them as they were appointed “His Master’s Voice”. The bell-ringers, the drummers of today are not sent by the presidents and kings to proclaim the events. Today’s drummers and bell-ringers not even represent the authorities, but the people. Their duty is to serve their readers. They select the news that looks interesting, not the news that the authorities want to present. They edit it in its own way and write it in their own style. “In it’s own way”: But aren’t facts facts? Yes. The events - an accident, a meeting, a demonstration - are the same for everybody. But the journalist is to reflect more than that. Why did it happen? Who is behind? Are there different

opinions? Is there anybody that didn’t get the microphone? Who is paying? Who, and what, is to be quoted? Who was not heard? Many people, including politicians, overrate the influence of the news media and their «news managers». Who controls the desks? Most media is a player in a social system and shows its power by lifting items to the public debate, setting the agenda of the day. The question is then: Who feeds the newspapers? Who decides what’s of «public interest»? The answer can be found somewhere in the social system where journalist, politicians, businessmen, artists and the grassroots organisations operates. The best news are those who both are interesting in itself, of interest for common people and important for the society. If news don’t effect the reader, it’s hardly can be called news. The journalist has to show that news really affects the readers, and how. Old news Can old news be good news? Yes. A general criterion for the news value is that the even just happened. By such a criterion we close our eyes for important stories. If we just looked for the fresh stories, we would never have heard of the brutalities during the apartheid period. Investigative journalism is often based on digging up «old news». Often we will see that these old stories have links to today’s political events.

Who are in the news? The more prominent persons involved, the more interesting are the news. Quotes of high level officials - those with power and influence - mean more than quotes from people on a lower level. A «soft» statement from a minister can be better news than a «hard» word from an opposition politician. But not always! Hard-hitting critics will often give statements on subjects that the officials don’t

want to talk about. Then the media has to have its integrity to present those stories that governments want to hide or keep in the dark. How close? During the so-called “Operation Restore Hope” in Somalia the international media covered heavily the even where the bodies of two American soldiers were dragged through Mogadishu. But few of them reported the reason: They didn’t mention that the same soldiers opened fire at a crowded marketplace and randomly wounded fifty people. What counts is your own, by that occasion the Americans. With a US dominated global news system, the fate of American soldiers, civilians or officials will have the highest news value, naturally for an American audience.

An accident in your own town normally has a higher news «value» than a car crash in India or London. Often, the main interest is our own kind, own group, and own country. That is not cynical, due to our definition of news. News value is linked to the reader’s interests but that must not lead us to a short-sighted egocentric definition of news where every event is measures after it’s distance from the newspapers address

How bloody? When a plane crashes and killing one hundred people, it makes big headlines. But car accidents - where higher numbers statistically are killed throughout the year – the news value is small. Does the news have to be dramatic to cover it? The dead toll caused by AIDS is well documented and covered. But malaria takes more life than AIDS. The traditional news with a dramatic element gives bigger headlines than others. Does that trend close our eyes for more «hidden» news, with huge effects on ordinary people, the readers?

Development reporting***** The Western press was the first to adopted the slogan :”Bad news are good news”. Western journalist have grown up in a tradition where event and crises - “what has happened?” It’s easier and more visible to destroy than build up. The most dramatic news are those when human beings and physical things breaks down. In it’s history Western journalist have identified themselves as “watchdogs”. It gives the profession a negative image. We should all create a style and a form of journalism appropriate to our own culture, our own needs and our own time. In an African context, it is almost certain to include at least an element of encouragement for national development by reporting stories which Western colleagues would ignore. The so-called “development reporting” is a style where the focus is set on issues and process more than on “what happened”. The development reporting takes it’s aim on the country’s progress and setbacks according to how the consequences will be for ordinary people. It’s an active form for journalism where one tries to find the news out of the slow process: How many have got bore holes since last year? What does a bore hole - or lack of bore hole - mean to women and children. The journalist has to look into the consequences on the grassroots. News priority Who decides what’s news? Authorities are always newsmakers. They make deceptions which have consequences for everybody. But local initiatives, protests, alternative plans and ideas are also worth our coverage. Alternative social actors are important, and from a readers view: more interesting, because they act and behave in a manor that one can identify oneself. By introducing the poor and oppressed we open up the media for new and interesting elements in the society. Maybe the most important of all subjects; the society seen from below. The most popular columns in newspapers are letters from the readers, criticising everything from

late coming buses and officials behaviours to teenage fashion and begging blinds. This grassroots journalism may go on expense of the establishment and the elite. Maybe they will be confused by the fact that stories about women and children are more important than the stories about themselves. Writing for who? The news language is influenced by the vocabulary of bureaucrats and politicians; it’s the elite language. The news are presented is presented in a way that fit those already informed. The reader needs background information to understand what f. ex. a short news bulletin contents. News is sometimes the reality cut into small pieces. The information is a limited selection of details; the last link in a long chain of political deceptions and events. The method of constructing a story, developed by Anglo-American journalism, is not suited for informing simple people in townships and villages. Who is on the journalist’s mind, writing the story: A neighbour or a minister? If the answer is the neighbour, we need a different language. Probably also a different type of narrative. The reporter have to tell the news story with the same words he or she use when talking to next-door-people. That will give us a down-to-earth news language. We can call it «barefoot journalism». Criteria for priority Correctness is essential. When the president gives a speech or a statement, he must be quoted word-by-word. But does that give the reader a «correct» picture of the situation? And which quotes are the essential one? In Africa we have a long - and bad - tradition for presidential journalism. The reporters follow the head of state wherever he goes, but where are the critical questions? Where is the critical report behind the scene? We need the quoting journalism, but we also need the follow-up journalism, where the authorities half a year later is asked: What happened to the promises you gave last year? The classic ideal for journalists is objective reporting. But neutral reporting is impossible. One might try to be balances, to give a fair chance for both parts to

loud their voices. But behind choice of angle, searches and dispositions the reporter already have gone through many “hidden” choices, directed by personal values and priorities. Modern journalism (Mail&Guardian, The Independent, Washington Post etc.) focus on digging up stories where the research is based on a suspicion of corruption, immorality or criminal behaviour; its based on an opinion. This journalism is dangerous for those in power, but who sets the criteria for what news your have to dig up? Sometimes it «sits in the walls», the newspaper have a tradition for its coverage. Such traditions have to be adjusted all the time. Sometimes will the newspapers owner have interests, both in politics and business. Does that give a guideline for where to look, and where to doze? Who are the news for? Politicians and sources want to draw the attention to or away from specific issues. Some journalists have a tendency to take the short cut, using contacts in the government’s information departments or other civil servants, as the only source. The result is propaganda dressed in the news language. All sources want to set the agenda. Governmental news is in it’s style boring to most of the public. The reason must be the presentation, because these news often are of vital interest to everybody. It the news presented in a wrong form? Do the readers realise that the news from the government influence them? News about government, its agencies, public officers and activities is one aspect of public affairs reporting which is so important to people’s lives that it should arouse total interest. It is not so. Journalists and governments must share the responsibility. The difficult bureaucrat language shadows the message. The political journalism is concentrated on reporting on the decision makers, often in an authoritative way. The reporter becomes an obedient piece in the master’s game. If the focus is on the decision maker’s version, the news will

serve the authorities, not the readers. If the stories focus on the practical consequences of decisions, the news will be of better help for the readers to understand what politics has to do with their daily life. After independence the new black governments had the idea of a common interest for «building the nation», everybody had the same interest. Politics was what Kenya’s Kenyatta called it in zwahili: uhuru, lifting together. The “enemy” was easy to identify: the past colonial powers. This concept of «nationbuilding» as a collective project is threatening to the free press. The government want to see the whole population as workers for the good will. But there are many ways to that «good will», and the road is full of power struggle, competing ideas and personal intrigues. Nationbuilding is never a harmonic game or a tea party. Not even in Mandela’s land. What is, then, the journalists contribution to “the new nations”? Do they do more than playing a cynical and destructive game with lost illusions and humiliated politicians as a result? Hopefully the effort is more talented. The ideal goal is to build a free society with freedom of expression for everybody and less possibilities for others that want to serve themselves, on behalf of the community. In short: The idea of political reporting is to bring the politics to the voters, and the voters voice to the politicians. Genres News, bulletins and reports On it’s best a news story leave no essential questions unanswered. That provides that all information is present, and you know how to compose a news bulletin, a brief news story or a summary. We have tools to help us; the five Ws and the one H; who, what, when, where, why and how. If those questions are answered in the intro, you probably have got a good start on the news story.

Who refers to the person or those involved in the news. During a student demonstration in Zimbabwe the “who” can be the demonstrating students, but also the police, using teargas, watercanons, batons etc. Deciding who is “the Who” is linked to your choice of angle: Who do you want to be in focus, and for what reasons? What refers to the present action. What is the story about? You have to analyse the situation; Is it the student demonstration in itself or the reaction from the police that is the most important? This shows how difficult objectivity is. Choice of angle involves choice of values. What profile do you want to give this event? What you you want your readers to remembered from this occation? When did it happen? “Yesterday” is not enough. It was Tuesday. “Recently” is even worse. Maybe you have to be even more precisely: In the morning, at daybreak, 8.00 a.m. Where did it happen? Student demonstrations “in Harare” is not exact. We know that the university is situated in the capital of Zimbabwe. Did they demonstrate on the campus? In the streets? In a park? Outside a chosen building, like the parliament? Often will the exact address give the reader information about its importance. The places for demonstration are sometimes chosen as a demonstration in itself. It can have a symbolic meaning; monuments, historical places etc. The place can ogso have been chosen because of it’s sensivity; parliaments, presidents office etc. Why did they demonstrate? The answers are many, so ask the student leaders. Their answers have to be combined with the slogans and posters in the demonstration. But we also need the reaction from the police; their explanation for its - sometimes - brutal reaction. Did some of the officers go too far, or where they instructed to do so? Who gave them the orders, the police itself, or the security apparatus? Under the “Why” it’s nessesary to make another choice: Is this ment to be a story about police brutality or about the political message, the students demands?

At this stage, you probably already has answered the how. But there are still dozens of questions to be answered. But the head of a story is based on these fundamental Ws and H. By telling a story, you start with the beginning, ending up with the conclusion. In news coverage it’s opposite. You start with the conclusion, and from there you widen the perspective, giving in more and more details. It has been described like a pyramid, and it’s constructed like this:

INTRO MORE FACTS SUPPORTING QUOTES BACKGROUND INFORMATION MORE FACTS OF LESSER IMPORTANCE MINOR DETAIL TO GIVE ADDED UNDERSTANDING LEAST SIGNIFICANT INFORMATION OR CONCLUDING QUOTES

By starting with the most interesting aspects, the reader itself can decide how far to read, one sentence or the whole story. Every sentence is an advertisement for the next. The story is to be written so that the editor can cut it from behind, cause by limited space. Since you never know if the reader follows you to the bottom on the report, the writing of intros and brief news is an art. You have to be precisely, accurate, no names wrong spelled, and the should be no doubt left: Was he “shot” or “killed”. Did she say exactly what you quoted? A journalist’s notebook is sometime a caos of isolated quotes, facts and phone numbers when you start writing the news story. Don’t let the story look like a patchwork! Go into the different aspects of the story, logically. The one after the other, one information leads to the next.

Sources giving plain information don’t have to be quoted. Direct quotation are for eyewitnesses and statements, it gives the story flavour, relevance and authenticity. Quotations is essential when the case is controversial. The short news bulletins and short news stories need sometimes extra information to be understandable for more than those already informed. The background is essential when the news has a long history. The readers need to know what happened before. Is this the first student demonstration in Harare? What happened last time? Has there been given any promises? How many participated last time they demonstrated? Who are your sources? Try to find the persons in command or in charge. There must be good reasons for quoting anonymous sources. Names have better value than “an wellinformed source”. A source should be identified exactly by name, title and other details that can indicate why we should trust - or distrust - just him. But who is the often mentioned “well-informed source”? The joke among journalists is that the “well-informed source” often is a colleague, and “peoples opinion” is what the taxi driver told you on way from the airport. “Well-informed sources” is normally a code name for officials that asks not to be named. They are normally working in the department which the story is about. When we use the term “authoritative source” it means a member of the government or a high-ranking official that speaks on behalf of the minister, manager etc. What the “authoritative source” says is often what the ministry want to be leaked to the media. Background box The easiest way of giving the background for the news story are the fact boxes. Briefly you present the facts and figures that is needed to understand the new development in the case. The boxes contains of concentrated information with a map, the important names, what has happened so far, the important documents and the positions of those involved.

Commentary and analysis The news story is basically a presentation of facts. The commentary and analysis go behind the facts. Where the news story is fresh, the commentary is based on what’s already known. The commentary - or the political feature - is a demanding type of journalism. The writer must have the knowledge, the background, the analyses and the fantasy to create a reliable political scenario from these elements. The news story starts with the conclusion. The commentary ends with the conclusion. But is that conclusion a authoritative one? Is it the journalist’s free space for expression of own views? What happens then to his integrity as a reliable balanced reporter? When reporting, the journalist has to present other’s opinions. When writing a commentary he is to express analyses, leading to a conclusion. But we are not free to take side and show partisanship. A good commentary includes relevant background and a variety of ideas. The different opinions are to be analysed with a distance. The less the commentator is “political correct” to a certain group or a party, the more influence he or she will get. It depends of one’s independence towards sources and political correctness. Any point of view must be logically presented, backed up with facts. The commentary shall present the background and the actors, who did what when? What did they say last year, compare to what they are saying now? In the commentary you can go behind the rhetorical prose and see what the word of a politician is worth. That is not the same as presenting one’s own opinion. But it’s an ethical question how you select the facts in your article. Do you keep facts that don’t fit with your own opinion away? If so, your authority as a commentator will be limited. In the commentary we present the ideas. We describe the present situation, and analyse what will happen, what is likely to happen? We explain the political process, argue for and against a political point of view, without drawing the conclusions. Let the readers do that themselves!

We draw a picture with all the details, but the picture is to have an idea, a theme. A commentary must be clear about the theme. The central ideas is to be highlighted. Identify the specific issue under the theme that should be of interest to the reader. Put yourself in the position of the readers. Will they be interested in all the details you gather and present? A commentary is longer than a news story. You have to catch your audience from sentence number one. Use a striking statement, a relevant anecdote, a quotation or a description in the lead. (Authors use much time to find the first sentence, the one that pull you through the whole book)

3.5

Feature The telephone rang at the Oval office. It was from the President’s national-security adviser. All preparations for the bombing of Kosovo where done. The adviser said: “We’re going to go, unless you say otherwise.” The President replied: “Let’s do it.”

That is the typical start of a feature story, the background article where you get the details the news story don’t have space for. Magazines like Time and Newsweek have specialised on the style, but also African magazines use it with success. Drum and Mail&Guardian are to good examples of our own feature tradition. The language is different. We leave the strict news vocabulary. Now we can describe event and emotions with softer word than we usually does. But the feature is not just for the soft stories. All sorts of evens can be selected for a feature treatment. The political feature can concentrate more on those involved than the specific case. A feature also can illustrate how political messages are received in the communities or how the political decisions look like from the grassroots. You have to be there! The feature writer must go out to do the research on the spot. The reporter describing how president

Clinton took his phone in the Oval room was not there, but he talked to those present and asked lot of “uninteresting” questions about who was there, did he take the phone himself? What was his first reaction? Did he swear? How was he dressed? Who did what afterwards? By other words: Catch the atmosphere! Go to the spots. The best township feature stories from South Africa the last years are made by journalists who didn’t go to the killing fields during the massacres, but went there two days later and sat down with the widow and the fatherless children. The reporters have hunted for details, curiosities and the small human touch elements. And they have asked for the background: Why did they try to kill just you? By using time, you build up confidence to those who have the element to your story. Then they will tell you all those episodes that they in the first place didn’t think was interesting for you. But don’t forget the facts! A feature full of emotions easily becomes sentimental. A feature full of facts is boring. The right combination of facts and feelings gives us the best feature. The stories and details we use is to illustrate those facts we get from informed peoples like community leaders, chiefs, mayors, political leaders and eyewitnesses. A well-written feature story need a dramatic element to catch the attention. Often this can be done by starting telling a story. It has a striking effect when you pick up the story again in the end of the feature. You can let us see the political case through affected people and let them tell their story, or present it in a fairy-tale style. The style has to fit with the angle you have chosen for the feature. Profiles The profile is a specialised branch of feature journalism. A profile can be a biographical feature based on an important person in public life, an interesting personality who hits the headlines or an ordinary human being who is interesting for one reason or another. Before you meet the person to portray, go through the archives of clippings to get his or her life story, quotes and episodes to spice the story. Spend time together with the

person’s friends - and “enemies”! - to get their characteristics. Charming stories from the privacy are sometimes just private, sometimes they say a lot about the person’s character. Include in your research all basic knowledge. Don’t spoil the time - and your reputation! by asking where he was born, where he was educated or what the name of her first book was. Where to do the interview? Busy people often try to make an appointment at their office. If possible, try to find a “neutral” ground, like a restaurant, a park or a place that is a part of the story and has a symbolic meaning. The person normally will be more open when there’s no desk to hide behind. Sometimes it’s a good idea to see the person at home. An interview for a profile feature is very different from a hard-hitting discussion-like conversation. We try to establish an atmosphere of confidence, a friendly environment. In such an interview you can ask simple questions on banal subjects. You can suddenly - the change is one to twenty - get a well-formulated answer that can colour up the profile. In this type of interviews, with space for reflections and, we often get more honest answers that in the daily production of statements. Even it the atmosphere is soft, don’t forget the harsh questions. Senior politicians often like to handle tricky questions; it becomes sometime a sport to be more ready wit that the journalist! Others who have happened to be controversial should be told that the hard questions give them an opportunity to give a reflected answer to questions that the man in the street would like to ask. Features are often used as follow-up journalism; we go behind the scene on the big stories. A feature can also serve as a curtain raiser for an event to come, giving the background in advance. Sometimes a reflected feature can be the story that is setting the agenda, like news stories often do.

The structures 4.1 Parliament

4.1.1 How parliaments work, formalities 4.1.2 Daily life in parliament, official meetings and informal information

4.1.3 Committees, access to information 4.1.4 Bringing “the peoples voice” to those responsible 4.1.5 Live broadcast from the parliament, debates etc. 4.2 Government and civil service

4.2.1 Routines for checking documents 4.2.2 How to “use” the spokesmen 4.2.3 When you are “not wanted” 4.2.4 Civil servants and political power 4.2.5 How to use “background information” 4.3 The executives

4.3.1 The executives and privacy 4.3.2 Respectful and critical 4.3.3 Who is responsible? About the art of blaming others 4.4 The parties politics? Relationship to government and parliament. 4.4.2 The parties as political workshops 4.4.3 The oppositions right to be heard. How to agree with them without being their tool. 4.5 Organisations agencies, farmers organisations, trade unions, churches, human right organisations, environment. 4.5.2 Analysis of their influence, aid and democracy, corporate connections between parties and trade unions, business organisations etc. 4.6 Elections

4.4.1 The structure, where is the power? Centralised, can the branch make

4.5.1 Types of organisations: NGOs, business foundations, information

4.6.1 Covering the campagne, propaganda vs information

4.6.2 Rigging and corruption 4.6.3 Observers and monitoring groups 4.6.4 The voters voice 4.6.5 Educating the people 4.6.6 Day of election-opinion poll 4.6.7 After the election, what to happen

5. Research 5.1 Statistics and figures

5.1.1 How to understand and use figures and percentage 5.1.2 Where to get reliable statistics 5.1.3 How figures can lie. Presentation of figures at radio. 5.2 Understanding of national budget.

5.2.1 Facts about the budget, how it is organised and set up. 5.2.2 The use of budget in the political debate; the list of promises. Who to guide you. 5.3 Public archives and documents

5.3.1 Press laws and access to archives. 5.3.2 How to find and use documents 5.4 Editorial archives

5.4.1 How to build up editorial clipping archives 5.4.2 Dairy of events to come 5.4.3 Checklists on old stories; new development? 5.4.4 Organising notes for later use 5.4.5 List of contact/sources 5.5 Preparations

5.5.1 Develop routines for checking and preparations 5.5.2 What to “dig up” before debates, interviews, portraits, speeches 5.5.3 The confrontation, how to present sensible information for those involved 5.5.4 Where to find background information 5.6 Observation situation”. Talk to those infected; de they recognise the minister’s version? 5.6.2 Official functions, who’s talking to who 5.6.3 “Meeting the people”, who do the dignitaries talk to? 5.6.4 Grassroots reporting, the society according to the beerhalls 5.7 Investigative journalism

5.6.1 Go and see for yourself! Check statement about “the present

5.7.1 Investigative methods, elements for basic investigative journalism. 5.8 “The context”

5.8.1 Setting the news in broader perspective 5.8.2 Use of background material, additional information 5.8.3 Analysis of statements and speeches: what was not said, what did s/he say last time, what was suspected to be said etc. 5.9 Sources civil servants, labourers, man in the street, women, children. Eyewitnesses, infected. 5.9.2 The element of interest, checking of information, analyse and find the opposite, conflicting source. Why do they leek information? 5.9.3 Map of sources, conflicts and interests 5.9.4 Relationship to sources. One time-sources, deep throat, don’t make friends, but keep in touch. Confrontation of information.

5.9.1 Types of sources: politicians, businessmen, NGOs, pressure groups,

Follow up-system (checklists) 5.9.5 Confidential sources, result of good or bad work? 5.9.6 Press releases and press meetings, information departments 5.9.7 Handbooks, internet, electronic networks 5.9.8 News agencies and international press 5.9.9 Information and desinformation Professionalism The minefields Journalists, using their press freedom are not free to write whatever they want. There are strictly regulated ethical guidelines, modelled by the journalist’s own organisations, to rule out how this freedom is to be practised. Press freedom can also be limited by the nature of the sources, deadlines, editorial policies and political considerations. Politician considerations is a well known limitation to many African journalist. Sometimes it make problems, sometimes trouble. It differs from country to country, but these are the journalistic mine fields: a. Indications on corruption or bad management on a high level. The closer to the head of state, the more delicate. b. Stories that question the nation’s governance. c. When critical voices of the establishment get their opinions covered. d. News stories that the government can define as “destabilising” the nation or affects “the security” of the country. This is not a list of journalistic “no go-area”. Reports within these sensitive areas might be the most important news story we publish. Calculate the risk together

with the editor and your senior colleagues. Be sure the story is correct, and all details are within the limits of legal considerations when it come to libel etc. Integrity Newspapers can at it’s most critical stage look like a part of the political opposition. But the duty is different. There is a distinction between been I “opposition” and behaving “independent”. Free newspapers therefor often call them independent. But the establishment don’t accept that difference. They call critical newspapers for “the opposition press”. Through the eighties the South African Weekly Mail (today Mail&Guardian) looked like an newspaper for the opposition newspaper. It identified itself totally with the struggle against apartheid. It was in opposition to the regime. Many ANC-members had the feeling that Weekly Mail was “their” press organ. But it’s popularity changed when the democratic government was in position. The newspaper then put the focus on unfortunate elements in the movement, power struggle, corruption and bad management. Suddenly Mail&Guardian became the enemy. But the paper didn’t - as many thought - change it policy. It kept the same line”: Follow closely those in power. The reporter is to be the critical observer, also those one agree with. To be independent is not just a word on a sticker to decorate the office. It’s a way of living as a journalist. The independence occur in contact with sources, politicians, businessmen and other who show themselves on the public stage. The independent behaviour is a guard for the credibility of the press, and for the reporter. As we have seen, many have the assumption that journalist should aim to be impartial. There is a widespread demand among readers to get news “free of the journalists opinions”. They want objective journalism. As we have seen: It don’t exist. The idea of journalistic objectivity opens for an ice-cold, cynical lack of engagement. Good journalism should not just describe how and why an event took place but seek to show it’s true nature. Sometimes - in wars, during catastrophes - the truly evil and horrific nature of

what has been perpetrated must be reflected through a beating heart, not an analysing brain. The journalist is not free to edit the reality after own sympathy. But he or she will do a bad ad uninspired job if journalism is reduced to statistics of death and blankets. It is through the symbiotic process of reflective equilibrium, rationally considering none’s judgements in regard to the basic principles of interpretation and evaluation, that objectivity can be achieved. If not all journalism is falsely reduced t the status of propaganda. Journalist have indeed a duty to strive for impartiality and objectivity. But the possession of values does not prevent one from seeing and telling the truth. But what is “truth”? A British tv-producer edited a picture of a woman together with a picture of a bowl of soup and showed it to some media students. Another group got a version of the same woman, cut together with a picture of a laughing child. The first group said she looked hungry, the second could clearly see how the mother’s love for the child filled the screen. The woman was neither hungry or fond of children. She was a actor. The edited version tells a selected part of the truth. The journalists profession is to select the most important pieces to the picture. A journalist can be sure that each of the reports not bring the truth. In the long term a newspaper can give a true version of the events. Because “news” are not the same as “truth”. The real, reliable truth contains of a lot of elements. Hopefully are some of them are news stories. During the Gulf war was the media’s access to cover limited. The generals selected the information. Newspapers where full of sophisticated pictures of spectacular explosions. We could see bridges in ruins and blown-up arm stores. But none of the generals showed us the dead civilians, even if they were counted in ten thousands. The Gulf war remains in our image as a “clean” war , even if we know better. Three criteria for what makes for truth in news reporting may be suggested: Accuracy - the facts should be based on solid evidence. Understanding - the story should contain relevant information to put the event in an understandable context. Fairness - the reports should be balanced, so the readers themselves can draw the conclusions.

Self-confidence Many African societies are characterised by a authoritarian style. It might be a heritage from the colonial days. But it’s also a result of poor education among journalists. The officials always know best. A reporter who fears authorities, becomes “a useful idiot”, as the party bosses in old communist-Soviet characterised some of their supporters. It takes time to build up one’s selfconfidence. Basic elements for this self-independence is an independent working style, knowledge about the subject to handle and a personal feeling of being a respected human being. Lack of self-confidence often leads to self-censorship and a “political correctness”. Though newspapers are owned by governments the fear of reprisals is not always the reason for self censorship. Reporters often “think” that the limitations are more stringent what they really are. Self-censorship is an easy way out of the dilemmas actually raised by modern hard hitting critical journalism. It is not the restrictions from the political powers that drive the journalists back to the “ministerial speech reporting”, a style the late Zimbabwean journalist Willie Musarurwa called “minister- and sunshine journalism”. A journalist has not done the job by quoting the speaker accurately. Was the assertions in the speech checked? It is rather internalised assumptions of what is expected of the media. It is a far simpler form of journalism to practice than investigative reporting. This is linked to the poor training many journalists have got, and their low social standing. The result of this self made limitation for the freedom of expression creates an atmosphere in the newsroom, specially in the “official media”. Code of conduct Press organisations with a will to practice independent journalism, often set up their own code of ethics. This is not done to limit the freedom of press, but to discipline it’s own members to basic regulations, a code of conduct. They have been developed as part of the professionalization of journalism, as part of an increasing self-awareness by journalists that they belong to a particular profession with it’s own set of rules. The formulation and adoption of ethical

codes now takes place in both African and Asian countries, and not to forget the new democracies in Eastern Europe, often as an important element in the struggle for democratic media structures. In these codes of conducts are the journalist’s accountability and integrity basic words. According to the press conducts, responsible and professional journalism must be based on ... - Truthfulness in gathering and reporting information; -Freedom of expression and comment; and defence of these rights; -Equality by not discriminating against anyone on the basis of his/her gender, race, ethnicity or religion, social class, profession, handicap or any other personal characteristics; -Fairness by using only straightforward means in the gathering of information; -Respect for the sources and referents and their integrity; including respect for copyright laws; -Duty not to divulge confidential sources; -Duty not to prejudge the guilt of an accused; -Independence/integrity by refusing bribes and by resisting any other form of outside influence on the work. Many countries have integrated freedom of press and freedom of expression in their constitutions. But the freedom of press can be limited despite on the constitution. Freedom of press is not the freedom to abuse. And all nations have theirs laws against libel. The reporter can prove that a minister is lying, but no journalist has the right to call anybody a liar. It’s a bad manner to characterise somebody in abusive terms. But sometimes it seems that some journalist think that press freedom is the same as the right to abuse those in power. Public Interest and Private Life Media coverage affect the life of politicians. As public figures they seek the limelight of the press. But more often they want to shut the door. Do a prominent politician, a minister, have the right to privacy? The traditions differ from country to country. The tabloid journalism has made it a way of living, exposing the private life of celebrities, with or without their will. But prominent

people have a natural right to be by their own. Even head of states have an oasis of privacy. One of the functions for the media is to find the truth in matters of public interest. But to maintain the principles of public concern may often come into conflict with and disrupt the privacy of an individual. For to make things public implies interrupting privacy. The border between the private and public sphere changes with history and culture. A minister risk full coverage if involved with a mistress. No detail will remain untouched. In African tradition this belongs to the privacy. But if the minister has a political profile, dedicated to high moral, traditional family values and with a fierce critic of moral slackness; shall he then be protected? Revealing a genuine hypocrite is definitely of public interest. And it has relevance for the voters ability to evaluate his moral credibility. A newspaper reveals that a minister has been on holiday abroad, on the expenses of an international company in return for contracts that they have been awarded. The holiday offer was never mentioned in advance, the minister was not even involved in the planning, and he followed the recommendation his ministry presented for him. By other words: He didn’t commit any corrupt act. But it looked like, and he got involved with them in a way that leads us to a dangerous question: Has he shown a proper political judgement. The foreign trip was private and during his holiday. But highly of public interest, even if the arrangement was private. What constitutes “the public interest”? There is a difference between what is in the interest of the public and what the public is interested to know. The last is a mix of relevant information and gossip. The first invites the press to be almighty father of the readers, he who knows his client’s best. The methods To reveal corruption or discover illegal political activity the reporter need to use untraditional methods. Some have used hidden camera, others false identity and provocation’s. One may except unethical practices if the result is a disclosure of public interest. But there is every reason to discuss the consequences. Is the condition that the

immoral act to reveal is bigger than the immoral methods used to reveal it? The loser can be the ethical journalism, and the credibility of the press. Journalists who involve lies and deception in his or hers methods risk to make these “shortcuts” a relevant way of carrying out the research. A reporter, using disputed methods to discover other’s immorality, will experience that those revealed will turn the weapons on the journalistic cowboy. But there are ethical borderlines where the answer sometimes is go on. Relationship to sources Favours Journalists live in a constant conflict of interests, even if we don’t think of it on daily basis; personal relationships, use of favours to influence reporting and political pressure. How free is a newspaper? Commercial companies often offer journalists a free trip to destinations that will result in reports of their favour. In many African countries it’s common for political journalists to jet around with the president on his state visits. It gives the newspapers an opportunity to cover essential evens, but gives at the same time the government an opportunity to feed the press with news that often goes in their way. This affects not even the independent reporting, but also the image of an independent press. Personal favours is more tricky. It may have the form on a better dinner paid by a news source, in other cases cheep access to goods and trips. It might be innocent enough, and often not involve any promise of any kind. But it is a behaviour close to a conflict of interests. One day there is a hot story on one of these dinner hosts. How is the critical distance to the former dinner host? A relevant problem in poor newspaper with underpaid journalists is that small journalistic duties, paid in cash or goods or dinners, is temptation. But watchdogs grabbing the thief’s bones never remain long. Participation Should a journalist be involved in public organisations and, in particular, in politics? By participating in organisational life of a community the journalist keep in touch with the society they cover, and may give them access to useful and relevant news sources. At the other hand many maintain a position in a system they the next day might cover critically. a

They also get involved in the interests of these organisations, and will face problems to cover evens, connected to the particular part of the community, in a balanced way. For reporters the atmosphere in the corridors of power is fascinating. And it’s important to be there! The problem is when the politicians and their officers becomes one’s main reference group. Keep a distance to prevent thinking like them! It’s not the journalist’s duty to be a part of the system. Some journalist keep out of the official environment to establish a visible and real independence. It’s not a good idea. It’s in the corridors that the sources are. Adopt a confrontational posture instead of being a paranoid “minus reporter” in constant search for the crocks. Confidentiality The issue of confidentiality is at the centre of journalistic ethics. In some countries the right to protect the source’s anonymity is guarded by law. Journalist believe in the need for confidentiality for sources for several reasons and it’s difficult to underestimate the importance for a journalist of being able to obtain information in confidence from a private source and then being allowed to protect the confidentiality of that source. But should he, in the first place, promise anonymity? Confidentiality might be the only way of getting the story. But we shall remember that most sources - specially the anonymous ones - have their reasons for keeping in the dark. Their motives is not necessarily of a high standard. During the last years, may media consultant companies hire ex-journalists to leak sensitive information to the press, as a part of a wider - and hidden - agenda for political purposes. Both ministers and political parties and interest groups has their lobby system, where journalists are among those to affect. Parts of this activity is a systematically desinformation drive. Therefor it’s a good reason for being strict on when to promise confidentiality. RADIO RADIO RADIO RADIO RADIO radio: The stand up 6.4.1 When to do a stand-up; live and recorded

6.4.2 Preparations and “the stunt” 6.4.3 Combined forms; stand up and interviews, stand up and studio

8. Editorial process 8.1 Presentation

8.1.1 Headlines, introes 8.1.2 How to write a story 8.1.3 Use of cuttings 8.1.4 Radio: Use of contentum in news stories and features 8.1.5 Composition, dramaturgy 8.1.6 Montage 8.1.7 Live report, stand up 8.2 News language

8.2.1 Word to be understood, talk/write to your grandmother! 8.2.2 Language for illiterate people, radio 8.2.3 How to build up a sentence for radio, different to newspapers 8.2.4 Use of figures, theoretical analysis in radio 8.2.5 The verbs - use active, not passive verbs 8.2.6 Manipulations: the use of friendly and unfriendly words 8.2.7 The dialect from the bureaucracies 8.4 From idea to story

8.4.1 Directing a story, angling, what style 8.4.2 Gathering of information, “map” of information 8.4.3 Ingredients .3 Debate opinions, “a critic conversation”, shouting or decant talk?

3.3.1 Type of debates: Political struggle, intellectual exchange of

3.3.2 Discussion about who-did-wrong or what-is-right? (It was correct, but was it morally right?) 3.3.3 The set up. How many to discuss? Who to participate. Analyse of conflict. 3.3.4 The host’s role: On the underdog’s side? Critical just to one side? Independent behaviour. Be a good listener. 3.3.5 Preparations. Who will say what? Manuscript? 3.3.6 Progress, timing, when to change the subject. When to stop 3.3.7 Producers job 3.7 Call-in-programmes

3.7.1 Producers job: to select interesting questions and remarks 3.7.2 In the studio: politicians? experts? a personality? the host only? 3.7.3 Open subject or directed by the host. 3.8 Entertainment vs journalism intellectual capacity. 3.8.2 High temperature and poor information, but good rating and entertainment vs decent behaviour, much information, but low and bad entertainment. rating

3.8.1 Chose the participants to the debate or interview. Celebrity-factor vs

In radio the news comes every hour. It is repeated time and again, but nothing new happens. Its normal to twist the story round, to lift up a new element in the headlines. The problem with this is that the listener can get the idea that the story is new, there is a development in the news. What was “the most important” one hour ago has changes. What has happened? Nothing has happened, else than the reporters rewriting.

Consultants: Emelia Sithole Tomm Kristiansen e-mail: emelia@reuters.co.za

tomm.kristiansen@nrk.no