"The idea that media is there to educate us, or to inform us is ridiculous", Abbie Hoffman
Editorial - Throughout my career as a journalist and my involvement with a wide range of international newspaper tabloids, I have learnt that journalists are expected to do more than just reporting events and positively analysing current affairs for public consumption. Journalists do not have to create public outcry and sense of one sighted reporting that can cause backlash through diatribe reporting nor plagiarise the views of others so that the same factual errors are perpetuated. A breach of such journalism practices can result in one's licence being suspended or the media house fined or both.
But in a place like South Sudan, there are no credible media laws to held journalists accountable or allow to report fairly without deliberately publishing factual errors. And that caused Sudan Tribune (the topic of this writing) to enjoy immunity that allowed them to intentionally breach code of ethics without their motives questioned by either authorities of the countries (North and South Sudans) they operate in. Since its inception in 2003, this online media based in Paris (France) had a fair share of blame for publishing tribal oriented ideas without editing, to which no named source is attributed, fabricating matters and being blatantly dishonest, being totally unbalanced and unfair when they have been given the true facts from their subject, but fail to publish these as an answer to the journalist's point of view.
Because their business is headquartered in France, they also enjoy more pluses than minuses compared to other media sources currently operating in the two Sudans: their offices have never been shutdown, their editor in chief had never been interrogated or detained just like others currently operating through iron fists. Though one of their journalists was recently arrested, Sudan Tribune enjoy a far better immunity than you would imagine. For a news website that claims to promote plural news and views on Sudan (two Sudans perhaps?), that unintentional exemption cannot be used as a ground for ethics misconduct and deliberate deception or poor journalistic showing which the Sudan's best online news site (averaging 6 million viewers a year, according to Wikipedia) currently promote.
You would expect a news source of Sudan Tribune calibre to rightfully credit their source of information without yearning for plagiarism to falsify or over-verifying their side of story without too much "showing of copycatting", but this hasn't entirely been the case. Over a year ago, the news website was caught red-handed by a prominent South Sudanese news website called The New Sudan Vision (NSV) for using their story without even mentioning NSV as the original source. The NSV managed by Mading Ngor (currently working for Reuters) demanded an apology from Sudan Tribune (ST) or indicate that the NSV is the original source of that particular story. Sudan Tribune not only neglected NSV's requests, they continued having the news story appear on their site. This is plagiarism at best and a practice of enjoying immunity without concern for rectifying errors and reporting imbalance.
Another example of a deceptive reporting by ST was on the death of two Ugandan UPDF soldiers in July at Kidepo National Game Park, in which South Sudan poachers reportedly shot dead the two UPDF soldiers named Pte. Ahimbisibwe and Mathias Odongo.
Sudan Tribune in their yesterday's (August 16) reporting on a similar killing of two UPDF soldiers (a report also factually written by New Vision in Uganda and The Upper Nile Times in South Sudan) went as far as saying that the two officers killed in July "sparked tension between Uganda and South Sudan nations" when even the military leadership of each country didn't exchange views on the issue. This is another failure to tell the readers/public what they urgently need to read, and an example of twisting facts to continue threatening peaceful existence.
Without appearing neutral in controversial and unsubstantiated journalistic reporting, Sudan Tribune recently founded itself in the middle of a tussle between a major United States newspaper called Mcclatchy and the Minister of Information in the government of South Sudan, Hon. Barnaba Marial Benjamin. Mcclatchy were outraged by Marial's labelling of their journalist, Alan Boswell as a paid agent of Khartoum. ST popularised the issue as if it was between them and Marial. Worst of all, instead of clearly feeding the readers on the issue, they neglected most of Marial's version of the story and instead continue to publish McClatchy's side of the same issue to make the Minister appear arrogant and reckless. Such reporting did not only show a sign of intentional blackmailing, it also made Sudan Tribune appear as an agent for Khartoum's deceitful propaganda.
I can continue at lengths giving factual evidences on the lack of quality of reporting by ST and its "continuous mixing of lies, politics and journalism to try to be conspicuously accurate in everything", to operate in South Sudan remotely and under no laws to quest their business conduct. At the end its one question that really matters: does Sudan Tribune employ its journalists as pariah to international journalism's ethics and standards? The question is answerable to the news website itself.
* Sudan Tribune, Lies, deceptions and the downfall of journalistic integrity in South Sudan first appeared as a national editorial of The Upper Nile Times.
NOTE: The Opinions expressed herein are entirely for the author of the article. The Upper Nile Times has no authority on the contents published here.
The Upper Nile Times