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Editor's Blog

It’s Important You Know The Truth

At Soccer Laduma, we try to keep life simple. When I started Soccer Laduma 19 years ago, it was born out of love – my simple love for football and, in particular, my genuine, wholehearted love for OUR football… South African football.
 
As what happens with true love, you find others who recognize this and that love is shared. Today we share our love of football with you through the various Soccer Laduma platforms. That makes me, even after almost 1000 issues, want to dance and cry with joy.
 
I will let you in on a secret. When I started Soccer Laduma 19 years ago, I knew nothing about the media, newspapers, journalism or editing. I didn’t even know anyone in the media! In fact, when I approached the industry, they told me I would fail.
 
Yet, despite my zero experience, today Soccer Laduma is a football leader even in world terms. Every week over 3.3 million people read Soccer Laduma. We have almost two million users on our web and mobile site monthly. Our Social media presence is huge thanks to you. We have 1.6 million Facebook followers, over 300 000 twitter followers and 75 000 Instagram users. And all of our platforms are still growing! This is testimony to what we do here every day.
 
People ask me how we have managed to be so successful and I tell them the answer is another secret, which is also a simple one. Besides loving football, the secret is to understand that our customers – in other words you our readers and users – are our boss.
 
Everyone who has worked here and works here will tell you that loving football is important, but understanding that our reader is our boss is paramount. You are the journalists’ boss, not me. It’s our job to deliver to you, to the best of our ability and beyond, the best possible football product. Our size and continuing growth tells us that we are fulfilling that pledge. I promise you that will remain true.
 
Sadly when you are successful, there are hidden agendas and sometimes people can take one and one and turn it into four instead of two. Why they do it, I don’t exactly know. But I feel it’s important for even those of you who may not have heard, and particular those of you who have heard, that Soccer Laduma was attacked, we believe, unfairly by a radio station last Friday. We believe they played the man and not the ball.
 
Below is the statement we released yesterday on our digital platforms in response to this radio broadcast. We don’t like fights and we believe in mutual respect and common decency, but we think it’s important that you know the truth.
 
Last Friday evening, 5 February 2016, a Gauteng radio station was used as a platform to attack Soccer Laduma. We need to set the record straight to correct inaccuracies and bring to your attention information that was deliberately omitted to mislead you and to misrepresent Soccer Laduma. Soccer Laduma is drafting a formal complaint to the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of South Africa (BCCSA) against the radio station that aired the show.
 
Some prior facts…
 
• Prior to last Friday, Soccer Laduma had never received any complaint from the Ombudsman / Press Council regarding Chiefs and Sundowns grievances.
 
• In addition, it is important to note that any complaint about newspaper content should be addressed with the Ombudsman within 21 days of it being published.
 
What Soccer Laduma stands for…
 
In the 19 years of existence, Soccer Laduma has strived to uphold the principles of good journalism and fair play. The entire reason the publication was born was to give football players a legitimate voice in the game and to bring the fans closer to them. Every day, our journalists work tirelessly to keep our readers updated on our digital platforms, while our newspaper team, who work in a very challenging industry, take great pride in their weekly offering – an offering that has been referred to by our readers as their soccer bible. We would never put our reputation at risk or break the trust we have with our readers, as we we’ve spent years building it. 
 
What transpired…
 
Last week we were asked to appear on a radio show to answer certain “complaints from Chiefs and Sundowns”. We declined on the basis that we had not received any official complaint through the Ombudsman from either club on any matter whatsoever. We further explained that there is a process in place via the Ombudsman to deal with such complaints and, without the proper process having been followed, we simply could not respond as there was nothing except unproven allegations about which to respond. Had the protocol been followed, Soccer Laduma would have addressed the issues accordingly.
 
Out of the blue, on Friday the 5th, Soccer Laduma was contacted by the Press Council of South Africa, who informed us that the radio station had contacted them shortly before the show was scheduled to be aired. The Press Council advised them that there was “no story” and that the show should not be aired. Eighty minutes before the show, the Press Council sent Soccer Laduma a complaint from Vina Maphosa of Kaizer Chiefs. The council informed Maphosa that Soccer Laduma had seven days to reply but, despite this, Maphosa went on air.
 
On the show, certain allegations were made to look like fact. These need to be rectified.
 
Mamelodi Sundowns’ Communications Officer, Thulani Thuswa, was interviewed on the show. He claimed that Sundowns have problems with Soccer Laduma, alleging that we conduct interviews in an unethical manner. The truth of the matter is we have never received a complaint from Sundowns via the Ombudsman and it is he who facilitates interviews between Soccer Laduma and the club. We have proof to support this.
 
He was followed by Vina Maphosa, Kaizer Chiefs’ Corporate Communications Manager, who made three allegations. Firstly, he stated that Chiefs have tried to develop a positive relationship with Soccer Laduma, while we have been uncooperative. In fact, the opposite is true. We have correspondence from 2012 up until now proving otherwise.
 
Secondly, he said Soccer Laduma conducts interviews in an unethical manner. This is a ridiculous claim, as we have a WhatsApp trail from 2014 to date to prove that it is in fact him who has facilitated interviews for us with Chiefs’ players.
 
Thirdly, he stated that “Countless false interviews” have appeared in Soccer Laduma. Despite the fact that he has facilitated most of the interviews, only three interviews were brought into question in his letter which arrived shortly before the radio show airing.
 
Nevertheless, in all three cases the freelance journalists insist the interviews in question are genuine.
 
Ironically, as media officers, both Maphosa and Thuswa should have been well aware of the correct procedures to follow in the event of a grievance regarding an interview. In Chiefs’ case, all three interviews fall out of the 21-day complaints compliance procedure.
 
The behaviour of the individuals involved, which include the radio journalist and media officers, goes completely against the code of media ethics and conduct.
 
Where to from here…
 
Soccer Laduma is drafting a formal letter of complaint to the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of South Africa (BCCSA) and to the Press Council of South Africa (Ombudsman) against the radio station that aired the show. As per the prescribed procedure, the radio station will have seven days to reply.
 
Regarding the clubs concerned, Soccer Laduma will continue in our efforts to develop and maintain good communication with them for the benefit of all soccer fans in this country.
 
We are grateful and humbled by the support of our loyal readers. 

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