Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Botswana disappointed in AFP report

source: Republic of Botswana (28/2/10) TAUTONA TIMES no 3 of 2010
The Electronic Press Circular of the Office of the President
“Democracy, Development, Dignity, Discipline and Delivery”

C4) 12/2/10: Botswana disappointed in AFP report

With reference to the above, the Government of Botswana wishes to register its disappointment at your press agency’s so-called news article of 11/2/10 entitled “President snubs Botswana bushmen: minority spokesman.”

In this respect, we firstly wish to observe that although presented as an original piece of news coverage the content of the said article is in fact little more than a rewording of a 9/2/10 Press Release by a UK based advocacy group known as Survival International, which for some years now has been running its own media campaign against our country. As such both the tone and content your so-called news story makes a mockery of your agency’s noble claim to provide accurate, balanced coverage in line with Article 2 of the AFP Fundamental Principles, as well as such other accepted instruments as the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) code.

We have further taken note of, and must dismiss with contempt, paragraph four of your so-called news article, which states: “A government spokesman could not be reached for comment.”

Government information contacts for this and other issues have long been made available to you correspondents, and as has been the case on other occasion could have been reached had there been any good faith effort to do so.

In addition, prior to your publication, this Government issued its own press release on the matter, which was circulated to AFP among others. [Statement attached]

We also wish to note that this is not an isolated incident, but rather fits into a pattern of coverage by AFP on certain local issues.

In expressing our disappointment we are well aware and mindful of the AFP’s generally renowned legacy and global reputation, which is sadly inconsistent with the lack of professional standards demonstrated in some, albeit not all, of the agency’s reporting on our own country. We can only hope that this is not a reflection of the AFP allowing for the application of a less rigorous set of standards for its coverage of a relatively small African state than what would prevail elsewhere.

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