Our News Philosophy

We subscribe fully to the preamble of the Constitution that all South Africans adopted in 1996, that describes the transformation currently underway in our land as a process to:

  • Heal the divisions of the past and establish a society based on democratic values, social justice and fundamental human rights;
  • Lay the foundation for a democratic and open society in which government is based on the will of the people and every citizen is equally protected by law;
  • Improve the quality of life of all citizens and free the potential of each person; and
  • Build a united and democratic South Africa able to take its place as a sovereign state in the family of nations.Our news and current affairs programmes:
  • Hold up this vision to remind South Africans of their commitments;
  • Hold the people and institutions with power – in government and outside government – accountable for turning this vision into reality;
  • Record the nation’s daily tribulations and triumphs on this exodus of transformation; and
  • Link South Africa and Africa to the rest of the world.

This is the philosophy that guides us when we decide on stories to tell and the way we tell them.


e-News is the leading source of credible  news and current  affairs programming in South Africa and the rest of the continent. Viewers prefer e-News because we tell stories well and help the viewers to understand their world better.

e-News is the leading source of credible  news and current  affairs programming in South Africa and the rest of the continent. Viewers prefer e-News because we tell stories well and help the viewers to understand their world better.





Ask probing questions
Differentiate between fact and comment
Fresh, uncluttered writing, with no cliches
Use actuality visuals well
Tell stories that are uniquely e-News stories

This e-News philosophy is clear and determined.  We use the power of television, in the best way possible, to tell stories that are meaningful to our viewers.  It is a philosophy we adhere to as e-News continues to evolve, not as an alternative to the public broadcaster, but as an authoritative, credible and informative television news service in its own right.

Our viewers must be able to connect with our stories. We are unequivocal on this point. The way we present, write and narrate a report must strike a chord.  Facts by themselves mean little.  For them to be understood and appreciated, viewers need to be able to relate them to their own experience.

In the submission to the Human Rights Commission, it was stated that e-News’ reporting style “immerses viewers in the environment and context of a story rather than keeping them at a distance passively watching it. We always look for the main interest and impact of a story. This means the person the news affects tells the story.”

We place much emphasis on developing and using strong visual storytelling techniques. Through a potent mix of good pictures, strong actuality and a script that explains, we aim to give the viewer a sense of being at a story, of experiencing the real thing.

We are committed to covering stories that reflect the great diversity of the South African people. The interests, beliefs, perspectives and all other things that are hot buttons to our audience will be covered without fear or favour.

We are not content with the tried and tested formula of television news programming. Nor do we seek to emulate other broadcasters, whether on style or content. Instead, we will continue to nurture a uniquely South African television news service through informal and innovative presentation and reportage.

But this is never at the expense of responsibility and accuracy  — the cornerstones of ethical journalism.  We require all our journalists to show open-mindedness, fairness and respect for the truth.  e-News is not and will not be a mouthpiece for any political, special interest or any other specific point of view. We report all sides whenever we can and are as balanced as we can be, recognising that one hundred percent objectivity will never be possible.


e-tv is committed to the highest standards and practices in producing and distributing news.

We, members of the editorial staff:

* Adhere to the highest standards of journalistic practice;

* Cover all newsworthy stories without regard to influence from any government institution or other outside person or entity;

* Investigate, prepare and deliver news programming that is at all times balanced, accurate and objective;

* Give appropriate representatives of differing points of view  the opportunity to present their sides;

* Ensure that all information from outside sources is properly substantiated and   attributed;

* Use all legal means to protect the confidentiality of sources;

* Promptly acknowledge and correct all material errors of fact, bias or omission;

* Make no promises or guarantees to report, promote or advance materials without true news value;

* Avoid the reality or appearance of all conflicts of personal and professional interest;

* Reject gifts, favours, commissions, or privileges from individuals, companies or associations that we are likely to cover;

* Reject discrimination based on gender, race, language,  culture, political persuasion, class, sexual orientation, religious belief, physical or mental disability;

* Reject plagiarism;

* Do not pander to morbid curiosity about the details of vice and crime or gratuitous use of violent or sexually explicit footage.

Editorial Guidelines

e-News aims to provide the best possible television news that is important, interesting and relevant to our audience.  But their desire to be kept well informed is tempered by an expectation that we are always accurate and fair in our journalism. We are therefore committed to providing news programming that is consistent with the highest editorial standards.  Where there is any doubt about the right approach, editorial staff must refer to a more senior level.

Values and Standards


Nothing undermines or knocks the credibility of our journalism more than inaccuracies.   It is up to everyone at all editorial levels to check and cross check, to ensure that our reputation is not damaged by sloppy journalism.

As part of the effort to weed out inaccuracies, we must distinguish between first and second-hand sources.  An error in one report is often recycled in another. We must confirm important information from primary sources ourselves and not rely on copy in newspapers and magazines, which may be incorrect or out-dated.   In tackling controversial issues, we must not simply rehash arguments, but try to get to the truth by seeking out the necessary facts and opinions.

Our writing also needs to be fair. This means avoiding exaggeration, value judgment and stereotyping.

We must apply the same journalistic rigour to our pictures as we do to our writing.   Thoughtless or careless use of pictures can destroy a good story. Inaccurate shots can also lead to charges of defamation.


We broadcast to an audience with a diverse range of interests, beliefs and convictions. This should be reflected in the stories we choose to cover and how the subject matter is treated.   In pursuit of these stories, our reporting should be dispassionate, wide-ranging and well-informed.  Wherever possible, the opinion of all major role players in a particular story should be sought in the interest of balance and newsworthiness.

In covering controversial matters, the main differing views should be given due weight in the period during which the controversy is active.  However, it is worth remembering that there are generally more than two sides to any issue, and balance cannot necessarily be achieved by simply offering two opposing views.  At all times, viewers should be given enough information
about a story to enable them to form their own ideas. A reporter may express a professional journalistic judgment but not a personal opinion.

“The journalist must stand back and view the argument from all sides, before scrupulously drawing out the key points to produce as full, balanced and impartial a pictures as possible in the time available,”   Andrew Boyd, Broadcast Journalism


Confidential sources are a necessary evil in journalism.  If we confine ourselves to “safe”, on-the-record-quotes, our reporting would be bland. People often speak more honestly if they are allowed to remain anonymous. But with the use of confidential sources comes a special responsibility.

News consumers obviously place much greater store on an attributed quote. There is an instinctive mistrust of a source “who wishes to remain anonymous”.  Questions arise about their motive and reluctance to go on record.  As a consequence, viewers may be less inclined to believe a story. This is why we should always be careful about using anonymous quotes.

We therefore need to be honest about our confidential sources even if we cannot name them.  If you have only one source, do not pretend it is two or three.  If you’re quoting a relatively junior person, do not elevate that source to a senior level in the hope of giving your story more credence.  “A source who declined to be named” is useful only because it reminds one that
most sources in most stories are, or should be, named.

Wherever possible, try to press your source for some form of identification so that he or she is more meaningful to the viewer.  For example, “a source close to the negotiations” helps the viewer evaluate the worth of the remark.

It is also essential not to enter into undertakings of confidentiality lightly or without considering the possible consequences.   Our journalism would suffer if people who give us information on condition that they remain anonymous were subsequently identified. On the other hand, a court may instruct a journalist to divulge a source in the interests of justice. Journalists working on stories which may result in criminal prosecutions must therefore be aware from the outset that they may be called as witnesses.


If we accept material under an embargo, it must be observed.  Often embargoes are imposed simply to suit the deadlines of competing media. If we believe this to be the case, it may be possible to persuade an organisation to lift or vary its embargo.  If embargoes are broken by other media, we may be justified in doing so as well.



The consent of parents or legal guardians must be obtained before interviewing children, or involving them in your report.  Children are generally keen to appear on camera, but may lack the necessary judgment about what is in their own long-term interest.  Therefore, when reporting on children, careful consideration should be given to how it is carried out, and any possible impact the report may have when broadcast.

When dealing with traumatised children, for example, it is advisable to seek expert advice about what is or is not appropriate.  The same applies when reporting on dangerous or illegal activity among children, such as drug taking or prostitution. Avoid taking identifiable pictures of children with terminal illnesses if you have not obtained permission from parents or guardians.  Do not take pictures of children involved in illegal activity or victims of sexual abuse.

Interviews with children also require particular care as they can be easily led in questioning. Children should be allowed to speak for themselves and not prompted into giving the sort of answer you are looking for.

Disabled people

We can be sensitive to the rights and dignities of disabled people without losing editorial punch. Aim to use plain, matter-of-fact language, avoiding outdated terms that stereotype or stigmatise. People should be described in terms of their disability only when it is relevant.  It is also worth bearing in mind that many disabled people feel patronised when the media does stories casting them as ‘brave heroes’ or ‘pitiable victims’.

Terms to avoid, with acceptable alternatives in brackets, include:

* victim of, crippled by, suffering from, afflicted by (person who has, person with);
* wheelchair bound, in a wheelchair (wheelchair user);
* invalid (disabled person);
* mentally handicapped, backward, retarded, slow (person with learning disability);
* the disabled, the handicapped, the blind, the deaf (disabled people, blind people, deaf people); deaf and dumb (deaf and speech-impaired, hearing and speech-impaired)

Gender issues

Our use of language should reflect not only changes in society but also our values as a progressive news organisation.  Phrases still abound which suggest that certain activities are the preserve of males only.  Comfortable alternatives exist for all words which refer to a time when women were barred from certain types of work.

For policemen, there’s police; for newsmen, there’s journalists etc. Outdated phrases, such as “career woman” must also be avoided.  However, we should respect people’s wishes about how we refer to them.  If someone calls himself or herself the “Chair” of an organisation, it is not for us to make them Chairman or Chairwoman.

Racial terminology

Race or ethnicity should be noted only if it is relevant to the story.  An example is in the case of a racially motivated attack.  But a person’s race should be mentioned in routine crime stories only if it is necessary for identification purposes while police are still looking for the suspect. If a
person has already been arrested for a crime, there is no reason to indicate the person’s racial or ethnic background.

The words “white”, “black” should not be used as nouns, but as adjectives:white people, black people etc.

There are also some South Africans who take exception to specific labels such as “coloured”, preferring a more generic term such as “black person”. A good rule of thumb in these situations is to ask how people describe themselves.

The phrase “ethnic group” should be used instead of “tribe” — a term that that is associated with negative racial stereotyping.

Sexual orientation

Gay people are often the subject of thoughtless and offensive stereotyping in the media.  Very often the only stories we cover about gay men and lesbian women are the “queer parades” in our city centres, or “high camp” parties.  But gay people also make up a significant minority of our viewers and have the right to be portrayed fairly.  They play a full range of roles in our society and in most cases, sexual orientation is an incidental characteristic.  ‘Gay and lesbian’ or ‘homosexual’ are suitable terminology in news programming, but there is no place for words like ‘queer’ or ‘dyke’.

Taste and Decency

Suffering and Distress

In covering accidents and other disasters, reporters have to balance the need to provide full accurate coverage without causing further distress. This requires responsibility and compassion. Information should be relayed as swiftly and accurately as possible.  If there’s a need to correct
information that has already been broadcast, this should be done promptly and prominently, without trying to conceal earlier mistakes.

People in distress or grief should not be pressurised into giving interviews. Approaches are often best made through relatives, friends or advisers.

Great care should also be taken when filming traumatised or bereaved people. Permission to broadcast the footage must be obtained from those concerned, especially if it was initially filmed without their consent. Where victims have co-operated willingly with reporters, a few words of explanation when introducing the scene can prevent complaints that our coverage is callous or

Names of people who have been killed, seriously injured or gone missing, should be withheld until we are satisfied that their next-of-kin have been informed.  There may be exceptions for prominent public figures.


e-News has always maintained a fairly liberal approach to the use of swearwords in our output, believing that it is often justified in the interests of authenticity.   But this is confined almost exclusively to soundbites. There is almost never a case in which we need to use a swearword
outside a soundbite.  Strong language causes deep offence to many, especially if it is deemed gratuitous.  Even though we do permit the odd swearword, the stronger the language, the harder we ought to think about using it.

Crime and Violence

Reporting crime

The high incidence of violent crime in South Africa means that it could occupy a disproportionate amount of time in our news programming if we allowed it to.  Because of the relative ease with which crime stories can be covered, they make tempting bulletin fodder.  Therefore, when we do decide to cover crime stories, we need to think carefully why we are reporting them, how we are reporting them, and the context in which we are reporting them.

As a national television channel, we should aim to report on crime only when it is significant or unusual.  Probable exceptions would be when we have obtained some dramatic footage, which makes compelling viewing.  Journalists wishing to interview criminals, active or convicted, need to get permission from editorial managers.

Interviews with witnesses also need to be handled carefully. At no time should we portray crime or people living on the proceeds of crime as glamorous.

Bomb threats/hoaxes

Members of the public call in from time to time about bomb scares, explosions, etc. Occasionally warnings are received from people claiming to have planted bombs.  Like all news organisations, we have to balance the need to inform and warn the public against the importance of not giving publicity to hoaxers.

If specific information is given about a bomb, this must be referred immediately to the senior editors and emergency services.  We do not report on bomb scares, but each incident must be checked with the relevant police officials to ensure that it is not just a hoax.  If a bomb scare is causing serious disruption, say to rush-hour traffic or flights, it may be necessary to report on this.


We follow the norm in most news organisations and do not report on suicides, or attempted suicides. The exception to the rule is if the person is high-profile and his or her death is likely to attract widespread interest.

In the event of reporting a suicide, particular care should be exercised because of the risk of encouraging others.  Wherever possible, the method of suicide and devices or substances used should be referred to in general rather than specific terms. We also need to be careful about prematurely declaring a death to be suicide. If the police say it appears to be suicide, the phrase “apparent suicide” should be used.


Reporting on violence, whether involving murder, clashes between rival groups or the aftermath of bomb blasts, is part of our daily work.  But our ability to show events places a special responsibility on us. While it is our duty to keep people properly informed, we must be mindful of the risk of desensitising or unnecessarily shocking them.

In all stories involving violence and its consequences:

* Close-ups should be generally avoided
* The dead should not be shown unless there are compelling reasons to do so
*  Do not feel obliged to use graphic footage simply because you have it
* The same value should be placed on human suffering whether it occurs locally or abroad

There are almost no circumstances in which it is justified to show executions or other scenes where people are dying, painfully or otherwise. From time to time, Reuters sends stories about mass executions of criminals in countries like Saudi Arabia, but these are not to be used.

Bear in mind that editing out the most vivid, bloody scenes need not result in a sanitised version of events.  Good scripting can convey the full reality of a tragedy.

Victims of sexual offences

Victims of rape and other sexual crimes, including incest, underage intercourse, child abuse and indecent assault cannot be identified. Occasionally, adult victims are prepared to speak out to help raise awareness about a certain crime. As many people may still be suffering the
traumatic effects of their ordeal, the consent to speak must not be the result of any pressure from a journalist.