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South Sudan Crisis and Responsible Reporting

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Dear Mr Rusbridger,   We are deeply concerned and dismayed at the coverage from South Sudan ("South Sudan: the state that fell apart in a week"), and the header used describing its author as the "first western journalist into" the country.   We are aware of the difficulties in gathering information from outside of Juba, the capital city.  However, we are extremely concerned about the risks in reporting exclusively anti-Nuer violence in one location.  We are aware that international media plays a strong role in fuelling retaliation elsewhere in the country, and we believe that your report contributes to this threat.   South Sudanese people are trying to fight the language of tribalism, hate and fear-mongering.  Now - more than ever - there is a real need for unbiased, balanced and informed reporting.  By concentrating on 'ethnic violence', particularly against the Nuer in Juba, your coverage is deeply flawed and at risk of being used as propaganda.   We also take issue with the description of the author of the article, Daniel Howden, as the "first western journalist into South Sudan."  This claim is untrue, misleading and offensive to all the African journalists, both South Sudanese and foreign nationals, who have been steadily covering the events since their very beginning, in Juba, Bor, Bentiu, Malakal, and all over South Sudan, often at great risk to their lives.  Two African journalists were detained for two nights at the beginning of the crisis, and many others are working under death threats.  They are producing clear, grounded data and informed analysis.   Being "western" is not a distinction worth mentioning - and there are many South Sudanese, African, and "western" journalists who have been working from South Sudan for some time, many of whom are still present across the country today.  We are also offended by the implication that "western" coverage may be less biased or better informed than local African media.  In many respects, the complexity of South Sudan demands experienced local coverage rather than regionally-based external journalism.   We kindly request you therefore, as the Editor in Chief of The Guardian, to issue appropriate corrections and strive to provide balanced, sensitive and nuanced coverage of a country on the brink of civil war.  We urge you to maintain the newspaper’s high standards by striving to provide a truly unbiased coverage of the devastating events unfolding in South Sudan.   Sincerely yours,   Gabriela Jacomella, freelance reporter and media trainer Aguil Lual Blunt, development professional Nicki Kindersley, researcher

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