Robust debate

Diane Craythorne, Kirstenhof

We are also supporters of Parkscape.

We have been flabbergasted to see so much one-sided reporting on the part of the Bulletin regarding Lower Tokai.

The issue of Lower Tokai/Tokai Forest is one that impacts on the broader community, and that community is entitled to hear both sides of the debate in order to form an informed opinion.

Several of us have sent letters to the Bulletin, very few of which have been published.

We know that members of the Parkscape exco have also sent letters, and these also haven’t been published.

Some of us also know from personal experience that each time we have written in favour of safety, balance and shaded recreation in Lower Tokai, the Bulletin has sought opinion and comment from SANParks.

In the rare instances that letters have been published, a SANParks response has invariably accompanied it.

But this isn’t the case when those who support SANParks and Friends of Tokai Park write in, no one asks for Parkscape’s rebuttal. The Bulletin obviously doesn’t think it needs Parkscape’s comment, despite the fact that Parkscape represents over 2 500 community members who support both conservation and shaded recreation.

At the court hearing on November 7, the Bulletin had two journalists present who interviewed members of SANParks and the SANParks’ legal team. No attempt was made to interview Parkscape members or the Parkscape legal team.

The point of journalism is to present both sides of the story – presenting a one-sided view does nothing but misinform the public and cloud the truth.

We challenge you to publish this letter – or reveal just what sort of paper the Bulletin really is.

Editor Chantel Erfort responds:

While the claims made in this letter have been raised directly with Ms Craythorne, I must point out that the Bulletin has, in the past, published letters relating to this matter, including one from Parkscape’s Nicky Schmidt (“Fynbos foliage a threat”, Bulletin letters, April 7). Ms Schmidt, as a representative of Parkscape, was also quoted in at least two front page Bulletin articles – “Tokai park debate” (July 28) and “Pines get the chop” (September 1) and featured in a video interview which was posted on our Facebook page in September and viewed nearly 1 000 times.

As Ms Craythorne seems to be familiar with the journalistic code of ethics, I’m sure she understands that it is our responsibility to give the right of reply to any parties mentioned, or particularly, criticised in correspondence sent to us.

We only had one letter sent to the Bulletin. With regards to our reporters who were at court on November 7, I can confirm that while both of them were there, only Lauren O’Connor-May was there to cover the hearing. She has informed me that she did not interview anyone at court, but did ask SANParks and Parkscape representatives for the correct spelling of their names.

The Bulletin strives to be the voice of the community and we look forward to continued engagement and more robust debate on matters of community interest.