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Johannesburg - The media has a responsibility to report on progress as well as government's failures, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa told the SA National Editor's Forum (Sanef).
“Tell the stories that are good - and there are many - but also tell the stories that are difficult, painful and troublesome,” he said in a speech prepared for delivery at Sanef's annual general meeting in Cape Town on Friday.
“Delight us, amuse us, educate us, challenge us.
“And occasionally, just occasionally, annoy us, for we do not pretend to be saints and to know it all.”
Ramaphosa called on the media to give expression to the struggles and successes of ordinary South Africans and the effects of government policies on their lives.
“Tell us how this has enabled them to go out to find work and how their lives have improved.
“But also be the voice of many people who have not yet had such opportunities.”
The context of such narratives - such as problems associated with urban development, high unemployment and inequality - was also necessary to keep the public fully informed.
“Write about the mineworker, who spends his days underground, his nights in a shack, and a precious few weeks at home. Tell us of the efforts we have made to improve his plight, of the progress we have made, of the mistakes we’ve made, of the constraints we’ve faced.”
The media could also empower people to tell their own stories, thus enabling consumers to act as producers.
It could also use its position to press government to confront its failings.
“Confront us about service delivery failures.
“Condemn us when children die of contaminated water.
“Expose us when we abuse state resources.
“Remind us of our responsibility to lead in an inclusive manner in order to address the deficit of trust and confidence that permeate in our society today,” he said. - Sapa