The voice of agriculture . Die stem van landbou . Izwe lezokulima

Media protocol ~ guidelines for all members

The power of digital and social media has changed the media landscape drastically as newspapers, radio and television now have to compete with online platforms where news (whether fake or not) is instantaneous and everybody is a “reporter”.

This means, that in order for mainstream media to remain relevant and still sell newspapers, they have to ensure they are first to break with news, making some reporters merciless in their quest for information, and the reporting of incidents not always accurate.

Recently we have taken note of some incidents where dealing with the media and the accurate reporting of these incidents, was an issue. Unfortunately, the word “farmer” is often loosely used when referring to a person living in a rural area.

We have been requested by members to provide a recap of guidelines for when dealing with the media should an incident occur in your community. As part of our collective bargaining power, these guidelines are a proactive approach designed to assist farmers should they find themselves having to deal with the media.

Guidelines in case of an incident

  • We advise you contact your FA Chairperson immediately to provide him/ her with details about the incident; giving him/ her necessary contact details of people involved
  • The FA Chairperson is then advised to contact Sandy or Kwanalu reception with details
  • We suggest a WhatsApp message from the FA Chairperson to go out to the local community reminding farmers not to give out details or comment should the media contact them
  • From past experience, we suggest that no interviews or answering of questions by the media should be handled by anyone besides the FA Chairperson. We advise farmers tell journalists “no comment”.
  • If you are feeling pressured by the journalist, ask for a telephone number, tell them you will call back in 10 minutes while you catch your breath and then call them back. Emotions will be running high and as such it is not easy to remember these guidelines and this helps.
  • The reason we call on farmers to use these guidelines is because as mentioned above, the media are desperate to be the first with the news and as such the first reports need to be accurate. In this way, we can try to protect the image and perception of farmers as best we can.

Following on from our media protocol guidelines, please see advice for social media etiquette.

  • Farmers/ members are reminded about the dangers and irresponsibility of sharing unverified sources’ information on social media. Please check the source before sharing of “news”. A good way to be sure, is to check information is from a reputable site ie news24.com.
  • Alternatively, call the Kwanalu office to fact check information
  • Similarly, we would like to discourage farmers from sharing negative information on social media/ in WhatsApp groups (even if from a verified news channel) as this fosters fear and instability in the country.
  • We discourage farmers from joining WhatsApp groups that are negative about SA/ other cultures/ racist groups and to only join reputable groups whose sources are reliable and verified
  • Facebook has introduced a Fake News button – if you feel news is not true or from a suspicious source, you are able to report it.
  • We would like to encourage members who are on social media to follow Kwanalu on Facebook and Twitter ~ we share all news relevant to agriculture in SA from reputable sources.