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Leaders applaud the Dispatch’s struggle for truth

Archbishop of The Anglican Church Thabo Makgoba
Archbishop of The Anglican Church Thabo Makgoba
Image: ESA ALEXANDER

While print circulation may be dwindling at newspapers across the world, the need for reliable, trustworthy news sources is important today, more than ever, given the proliferation of fake news.

The rise of social media has seen an explosion of disinformation campaigns that are often thinly veiled attempts at propaganda used to manipulate the public into believing reports that suit particular agendas.

Daily Dispatch asked several prominent South Africans and media personalities their thoughts on this vital issue.

Archbishop of The Anglican Church of Southern Africa, Dr Thabo Makgoba said: “Regional newspapers and websites such as Daily Dispatch are recognised the world over as of critical importance to properly functioning democracies.  They give local corporate and government institutions independent information not available elsewhere about the concerns of ordinary people.  They also give people on the ground an important way of making their voices heard.

“The Daily Dispatch has played this critical role for at least 50 years in the Eastern Cape, including your reporting of the killing of Steve Biko. In some democracies such the United States of America, the collapse of regional dailies has been damaging to democracy and important voices are being lost. I am thankful this is not happening in the Dispatch's distribution area.

“Warmest congratulations on your 150th, may your reporting continue to grow from strength to strength, and I appeal to local business, governmental and NGO institutions to give you their full support.

“God bless.”

In the swirl of fake news and radical opinions that surround us, we should be able to turn to trusted beacons, such as the Daily Dispatch to provide us with guidance.

Dr Jeanne du Toit, acting head of Rhodes University’s school of journalism said: “It’s true that newspaper circulation is under enormous pressure. But one fact that has not changed is that the press are critical providers of the in-depth analysis and credible information that South Africans need to be able to participate as active citizens in our democracy.

“This is even more so now, given the enormous social challenges that we face in the contemporary moment, such as climate change, economic distress, and social conflict. In the swirl of fake news and radical opinions that surround us, we should be able to turn to trusted beacons, such as the Daily Dispatch to provide us with guidance.”

Zelda La Grange
Zelda La Grange
Image: supplied

Zelda La Grange,  former private secretary to Nelson Mandela said: “For 150 years people across the country have relied on accurate, trustworthy reports from the Daily Dispatch in the Eastern Cape.

“One of my fondest memories when travelling with Madiba to Qunu is how we devoured the news from the DD every morning. 

“The paper has truly lived through the history of this country, being a voice of reason during apartheid, remaining independent and free from self-censorship. It provided a platform for many South Africans that could not be published elsewhere and a force in resistance against the regime when needed most. 

“The best source of information is always from one that also sees and feels first hand while reporting the facts around any event. With the digitisation of news, the Daily Dispatch continues to be that trustworthy source that allows us to feel and find, hence resonate with, whatever happens in the Eastern Cape. 

“My wish is that the Daily Dispatch continues to play its critical role in society and that it may go from strength to strength providing us with the voices we need to hear; that it remains an independent mirror to which we hold others and ourselves to account.”

Former Daily Dispatch Editor Andrew Trench: “We shouldn't equate a decline in print circulation with a decline or a diminishing of the importance of journalism. Journalism remains as important today as it ever was, perhaps even more important as the rise of digital as the preferred medium of information consumption has also enabled an industrial-level production of fake news and propaganda.

It falls on professional newsrooms like the Daily Dispatch to hold the line to provide information that is truthful and relevant

“It falls on professional newsrooms like the Daily Dispatch to hold the line to provide information that is truthful and relevant and to enable and service an informed citizenry which is so vital for a healthy society and democracy.”

Retired police officer Captain Jackson Manatha, who spent over two decades as Butterworth police spokesperson, said: “Even during elections, elderly folks in Butterworth would rely on Daily Dispatch for information. The word would be ‘I’d believe it when I see it in the Dispatch’. In 1975 when I was living in Duncan Village, politicians were seen reading Dispatch.

“It was a reliable source of news for events and issues during that era. At the time, one was considered an informed person if they are seen reading the Dispatch,” said Manatha. 

“During the 2010 World Cup, I was using the Dispatch as a source of information on what was happening in the country.

“My wish is for the Dispatch to continue with the legacy it is known for. We wish it will grow for another 150 years and more.”

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