WJP teaches journalism ethics in Orange Farm

IMG_2079Thetha FM (100.6) is an institution in Orange Farm. The blood red signage is known throughout the community, and now the radio station has moved out of the dark, dusty high school, away from the farm animals and into glass, fish bowl studios. The station has moved to Orange Farm Mall and shoppers can look at who is on air – speaking into their mics and pushing faders – while they ride up the escalator. The offices are now plush and built right above the mall’s food court.

The new Thetha FM has the same sense of character and integrity that WJP found back in 2013 when we started our editorial partnership. Since then we have produced dozens of hours of quality, legal-based radio together and we look forward to seeing the station, producers and presenters rise to the pressures of the changing environment.

On Saturday the 7th of February, we ran a training seminar for the Thetha FM staff. The training seminar was developed to enhance Thetha FM’s practices in journalism and as a consulting workshop in preparation for our new venture The Citizen Justice Network. The Citizen Justice Network will work in eight community radio stations around the country to train people in legal radio journalism.

During the seminar WJP spent a great deal of time teaching ethics. We analyzed how you balance an on-air personality while remaining objective and unbiased. Certain presenters at Thetha FM have needed security escorts after outbursts on air so we had a great deal to chat about. We looked at political and emotional bias. From there we shifted into interviewing styles, right of reply, fact checking, show preparation, how to find a quality story and how to keep one alive day after day.

The quality of journalism is varied at a community radio level. The listener figures are high, but the basics of journalism are often circumvented.  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.

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About witsjusticeproject
The Wits Justice Project combines journalism, advocacy, law and education to make the criminal justice system work better for all.

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