All politics is local: suggestions for an editorial policy on political news for community media
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In South Africa, the three spheres of government perform distinct functions in terms of the Constitution. By spreading the responsibilities of government across national, provincial and local structures, the Constitution ensures that government does not become too far removed from citizens. If local government is the closest level of interaction for citizens, then media at community level provide the link for that interaction. It is against this backdrop that this article views the quote widely attributed to American congressman Tip O'Neil: All politics is local. Political news has social importance for virtually everyone (Gelman 2011). On the flip side of the coin, people are what matter in terms of community media (Lauterer 1995: 9). This implies that even at grassroots level, media should have an editorial policy on political reporting if they want their editorial content to be relevant to the community they are serving. This loyalty to the needs of the community is the essence of media at grassroots level (Milne, Rau, Du Toit & Mdlongwa 2006: 3-4). This article reports on a qualitative content analysis of the existing editorial policies of community radio stations and newspapers in the Mangaung area in the Free State. Based on these findings, suggestions are made for a framework to draw up an editorial policy on political news for community media.