Two years of MAVERICK CITIZEN – Journalism with Purpose
Today Maverick Citizen marks its second year of ‘journalism with a purpose’ and what a blazing two years it’s been!
Our VISION: To facilitate and write about solutions that offer the promise of creating a better and more just life for people – those who live in South Africa and those who are impacted by what our country does or doesn’t do. Maverick Citizen focuses on social justice, promoting the creation of a society of equals – doing so with empathy, compassion and kindness. We report on and highlight the importance of an active citizenry and are viewed as a trusted source of news and opinions on, among others, education, health, human rights and social issues. We are first and foremost journalists who use our tools of the trade to highlight different perspectives, educate, dispel apathy while offering high-quality, agenda-setting news linked to the constitutional ideals of non-racialism, non-sexism, dignity and equality.
Our MISSION: To shine a spotlight on the marginalised, uncover new voices, stimulate fresh thinking and debate and be a space for excellent social justice journalism. A journalism service that reveals and defends the truth and holds those in power accountable. We strive to meet the promise of our Constitution, one hard news story, one investigation, one informed opinion piece, one inspiring visual element and one special focus area at a time.
As set out in our Vision and Mission, which we have been refining over the past two years, Maverick Citizen has always sought to highlight the underreported issues within civil society and bring to the fore the stories not often given the platform they deserve.
It is the ordinary South Africans who are doing their best to live in a country that seems to render them invisible, who we look to bring to the fore in order to realise our country’s constitutional promise. Like the story of the homeless people of Alberts Farm fighting for their right to dignity, or the widows of the Aloes Community helping each other survive medication stock-outs, or the rural children’s centre that is taking care of orphans forgotten by the Department of Social Development, the unnecessary death and dying in the Eastern Cape health system, how residents in drug- and gang-ridden settlements in Cape Town are fighting back, or how Amadiba residents are helping each other survive through their own farming initiatives.
In the past year Covid-19 has dominated Maverick Citizen’s reporting and as such we have had a special focus on the pandemic, drawing on the wealth of health reporting and networks of the team. This even earned us recognition at the African Digital Media Awards 2021 for being the Best Trust Initiative, something we are quite proud of.
We have also flown the flag thanks to great partners such as Spotlight, Bhekisisa, Mukurukuru Media, Viewfinder, GroundUp and wonderful freelancers.
We reported on everything from the bi-weekly media briefings with the National Coronavirus Command Council, to how ordinary and poor people on the ground were being affected and how provincial health systems were buckling under the weight of the virus. We also established an authoritative presence on all things Covid by pioneering webinars with health experts on what Covid-19 is and answering people’s questions about the pandemic, allowing them direct access to much-needed information.
Our other area of health focus has been the Eastern Cape and our collapsing health system which has been crippled by the impact of Covid-19. From staff shortages in hospitals and the unavailability of beds when patients need to be admitted, to the ever-increasing medico-legal lawsuits, the province is at a breaking point. Emergency medical services remain inaccessible to the most vulnerable who need them most, and frequent medication stock-outs continue to plague the province.
While Section 27 of our Constitution says that “everyone has the right to have access to healthcare services, including reproductive healthcare services and no one may be refused emergency medical treatment”, it seems our government has chosen to ignore this right when hospitals have to function with blown-off roofs, no water and no electricity, putting the lives of staff and patients at risk.
We have also been shining the spotlight on the issue of Food Justice, an area that gets little attention but has made a big impact on the survival of millions of South Africans. According to our Constitution, “everyone has the right to sufficient food and water”, yet there are 11.8 million South Africans reported as living on a crisis level of hunger.
Part of the fight for Food Justice is creating food literacy so people are able to make informed decisions about what they eat and why they eat it. The food and beverage industry is riddled with misconduct and flouting of regulations, and the public has a right to know about.
The areas of food sovereignty specifically often cause stunting and malnutrition, which all form part of the current hunger crisis exacerbated by Covid-19. As a publication that focuses on social justice issues, hunger is critical to address since it is created by the effects of an unequal and unjust society.
We have included our Mission and Vision so that our readers and contributors can hold us accountable to the principles contained therein, to ensure our journalism remains of the highest quality.
We look forward to another impactful year of Maverick Citizen and will continue working to spotlight issues of social justice. DM/MC
Zukiswa Pikoli is a journalist with Maverick Citizen.
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