From the start we have called ourselves the People’s Paper…
That means, of course, we do not primarily deal with pens and ink and trucks and accounts…but with people.
Nobody at the Suns does this better than our SunDefender…
That’s a tremendously-popular, full-page feature that runs on Thursdays and Sundays in our papers.
And it does just what the title suggests…
It DEFENDS our readers from the trouble many of them often get into with anything ranging from car repair shops to banks to micro-lenders to insurance companies…
It’s classically what a People’s Paper should do…engaging with readers…
The SunDefender himself is Chris Mokoena, a Sun staffer with some legal training…
Taking his job to a praiseworthy extreme, every Wednesday Chris mounts a small plastic chair at a small plastic table in the foyer of our building at MediaPark in Joburg.
Draped around the foyer on couches are…our READERS!
And they’ve come to tell their troubles to the Sun…face to face!
In 70 percent of the cases a bit of good advice is enough. The other 30 percent Chris takes further … and deals with in one of his columns.
Between 30 and 40 people pitch up in the foyer – by appointment – every Wednesday.
It’s the original African lekgotla where anyone could sit opposite the chief…asking for help or just some justice.
It also reminded me of Paul Kruger when he was president of the Transvaal Republic. Allegedly the old man had a fixed time every so often when he would sit on his stoep and receive petitions and complaints from any citizen – so long as they were citizens of the Transvaal.
There’s nothing “alleged” about what Chris does though.
There he sits every Wednesday on his modest throne – dealing with REAL people with REAL problems.
He says the most common crisis they bring to him is being black-listed…which means, of course, their line of credit dries up.
Ominously another rising problem, he reports, is identity theft.
An Identity Document is the most precious document a SunReader can own…it’s greatly prized and often stolen…
Chris’ great work in the foyer is by no means the only contact Daily and Sunday Sun have with readers.
We apply the face-to-face principle EVERY time and EVERYWHERE.
Effective newspapering is one of the original people businesses.
I hope, even as things in this industry mutate and change, that this great principle never dies…
Deon du Plessis