A whole cottage industry has sprung up among journalists, reacting to the phenomenon of “fake” news. There’s no doubt this is a crucially important issue for our craft, and much needs to be discussed and done.
In the heat of that debate, though, we perhaps forget about readers, who are wondering if they will be the next person to share – inadvertently – some spurious bit of nonsense or propaganda. With that person in mind, I was interested to come across a list of WikiTribune’s preferred news sources.
WikiTribune, according to its Wikipedia entry, is a news website in which journalists with established backgrounds “research, syndicate and report on widely publicised news stories alongside volunteers who curate articles by proofreading, fact-checking, suggesting possible changes, and adding sources from other, usually long established outlets”.
WikiTribune says of its list of sources: “We’ve been working with a list of preferred sources as a guide for WikiTribune staff… We’re hoping it’ll be a valuable resource for people seeking accurate news, and anyone who wants to write for or edit WikiTribune.”
Theirs is a good list – I don’t personally know all the sources on the list, but the ones I do are all reputable.
And I thought it might be useful to make a similar list of South African news websites as an addition to the more US-centric sources they name. If you look for, or share, news from the sites listed below, you are unlikely to be dabbling in the troubled waters of misinformation and propaganda (especially if you cross-check one against the other).
That said, all these sites have in the past, and will in the future, make mistakes. Journalists are human too. But on the whole they are staffed with real people trying to bring you news as accurate as they can make it.
African News Agency (ANA) – a news agency rather than a news website, so you will see it a credit at the end of a story. Owned by Independent Media; has rights to overseas news sources.
Daily Maverick – independently owned site, carries mostly opinion pieces
ENCA – online arm of eTV news
Eyewitness News (EWN) – online arm of Primedia, who have talk radio stations CapeTalk and 702
Independent Online (IOL) – online arm of Independent Media, which owns a stable of English language newspapers including The Star (Disclaimer: I used to work at IOL)
M&G – website of the independent Mail & Guardian newspaper
News24 – represents Media 24, which has several newspapers in its stable including City Press, Rapport and Beeld
SABC – the state broadcaster
Timeslive – from TisoBlackstar, owner of the Sunday Times
* I have stuck with the big websites rather than sites representing individual print publications.
* The list has a short note giving my personal understanding of who the site represents – this is not necessarily an accurate reflection of every nuance of ownership, just my own mental shorthand of the place the site occupies in the media spectrum.
* You may feel that some entries in the list are biased, or you may have particular feelings about the owners of the site – and your reservations may be justified. But I personally know, or have known, actual coal-face journalists at all of these institutions and can vouch for their every day struggles to do their jobs to the best of their abilities. And that is the basis of my trust.
* * If I have left anyone out, please let me know in the comments below!