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On the Couch: Find news you trust

Protests, such as this one in France this month against pension reforms, are a cornerstone of democracy, giving voice to people who disagree with policies or the failures of those elected. Violence, manipulation and misinformation should not be mistaken for legitimate demonstrations of disagreement.

Protests, such as this one in France this month against pension reforms, are a cornerstone of democracy, giving voice to people who disagree with policies or the failures of those elected. Violence, manipulation and misinformation should not be mistaken for legitimate demonstrations of disagreement.

Published Mar 18, 2023

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Welcome to Saturday.

It’s the best day of the week, for those who get full weekends. Escape the pressures of the previous five days, unwind, do what you want to do and know you still have another day off before you have to do it all again.

Our Saturday newspaper teams work hard to get you into a happier space for the weekend. We try to bring you uplifting, inspiring stories. Of people making a difference in their ’hoods, or those looking outwards and helping people who are not neighbours, but fellow citizens, or caring for needy animals. They are acting on issues that affect us all and show the way for others so inclined to follow the example. Grassroots change that can ease some of the problems confronting society as a whole.

We also deliver off-beat and quirky stories that give you a smile. Not forgetting a full round-up of entertaining things you can do to escape the grind.

But our teams also take being part of the Fourth Estate very seriously. Sometimes there are news stories that don’t fit the positive mould but we present them to you because they are so important to us and our country.

We ensure the information we gather, from sources who are vetted and questioned and whose credibility is tested and confirmed, is accurate and truthful. Citizens, perhaps now more than ever, need to be able to trust the news they read.

Take, for instance, the national swirl around the shutdown.

Having experienced the nightmare of the July 2021 riots, looting and burning, people are scared and looking for information they can use to ensure the safety of themselves, their neighbourhoods, their businesses and their property.

Many, unfortunately, turn to social media as their sole resource.

What confronts them there is panic, anger, lies, general fear-mongering, political gamesmanship and backstabbing aimed at inciting legitimately angry people to run amok.

What is alarming is that, for a “national shutdown” for people with real gripes and reasons to make their voices heard, even the main players cannot unite to force the necessary changes to genuinely improve the conditions struggling South Africans face.

With eyes on the 2024 elections, there are factions fighting their own agendas with little regard to affecting real improvements or solutions. They are simply about expanding their power bases, not trying to find resolution. Once again, it is the ordinary people who will pay the price for politicians and power players grasping for more for themselves.

It will once again fall to the ordinary citizen to plan and prepare for a day that, at minimum, will be disruptive and, at worst, another display of destruction.

Millions of South Africans who find themselves mere pawns in the Machiavellian political power play will still have no voice: it will be silenced by those who insist that, if you’re not with them, you’re against them.

The usual recourse for such citizens is to be heard at the ballot box. The problem is that the viable choices are being sucked in, silenced or sidelined by the noise and disinformation.

It will be vital for South Africans to find reliable, trustworthy, tested news sources that wade through the sensation to get to the facts.

And, along that road, to bring you some cheer too.

  • Lindsay Slogrove is the news editor

The Independent on Saturday