The Orange Farm community houses a vibrant and energetic community radio station, Thetha FM (100.6). Their blood red signage is known throughout the community, and the station is situated in Orange Farm Mall where shoppers can look at who is on air – speaking into their mics and pushing faders – while they ride up the escalator. The offices are plush and built right above the mall’s food court.
You may think the location of the station gives it a unique advantage and encourages community participation because of its visibility, however there are many more aspects that are needed for a healthy community radio station that is founded on four integral pillars- Education, Information, Interactivity and Entertainment
Last year, CJN ran a training seminar for the Thetha FM staff. The training seminar was developed to enhance Thetha FM’s practices in journalism and sought to instil an understanding of ethics in their journalism practice.
As a new year begins and people are engaging in new partnerships with each other, there are some ethical foundations that need to be put in place to ensure a mutually beneficial relationship.
When working with a community radio station, it is of the utmost important to make sure you are entering a station that is founded on good ethics. The training did well in analysing how you balance an on-air personality while remaining objective and unbiased. It covered areas of political and emotional bias which is important this year because of local elections. You want to partner with a station that will report without fear or favour and one which will put the needs of the community first.
A station that does well with interviewing styles, right of reply, fact checking and show preparation will attract solid partnerships and produce content that is much needed in the community.
The quality of journalism is varied at a community radio level. The listener figures are high, but the basics of journalism are often circumvented.
What has made CJN a solid project is the partnerships we have chosen. We have chosen to partner with radio stations whose structure and programming is healthy, sustainable and rooted in the community. (Thetha FM, Emalahleni FM, Musina FM, The Rock FM and Lebowakgomo FM).We believe – especially when it comes to legal and justice journalism – that by beefing up these practices at a community level we will enhance a community’s media and allow them to understand their rights more fully.
Five ethical rules that radio journalists need to know
It is important to be as transparent as possible when arranging an interview. The interviewee will need to give informed consent to being quoted in the media. The journalist must disclose who they are, particularly from the time the subject is on the record.
- Fact Checking
All journalists are responsible for fact-checking their stories, according to accepted journalistic standards. Where possible, and when no other record of an interview is available other than the journalist’s memory or notes, then the person being quoted in an article should be contacted to verify that the quote is correct
- Anonymous sources
There are circumstances which require a source’s identity to be withheld, particularly if there are serious safety concerns. An unnamed source should only be used for information which is essential to a story, and should never be allowed to make personal or political criticism.
- Right of reply
The people or organisation’s you make allegations towards must be given the opportunity to submit a right of reply. They must be given a reasonable deadline to do so.
- Data Protection
The journalist must ensure that all data and information (soft and hard copy) relating to the story is kept safely. This is to protect you once the story is broadcast.