In August 2013, a new local online alternative magazine which was set to launch in December, contacted the SAVA looking for participants in the SA Vampyre community to interview. Due to the assurances given, and the fact that this new publication was presenting itself as being part of the alternative lifestyles community in South Africa, this request was considered more seriously than others in recent times, and passed along to other members of the community to consider. A face-to-face interview was arranged, and according to both parties, this went reasonably well. Unfortunately, the final article which appeared in the first issue of the online publication fell far short of expectations.
Below is a letter of complaint which was sent to the AltSA magazine Editor by the SAVA regarding this article.
The Editor of Alt SA,
Participants in our community reacted with disappointment this Sunday evening at reading your article “Interview with a Vampyre” with Rose Dantis. Sad to say, the Vampyre Community globally is already a little jaded by such sensational journalism, so perhaps it is not an exaggeration to say that we are not very surprised by this.
It is obvious that this article was written with nothing less than brute sensationalism in mind. Of course, since this is the first issue of the magazine, it could have gone either way. You could have chosen a more realistic and “actuality-based” route in covering what is a really sensitive issue for self-identifying Vampyres and their donors, one which employs less “shock-tactic” journalism tricks and provided a more open-minded and educational view of our community and culture.
Instead of doing that, you opted for the “grossing-out factor” and turned the presentation of a Vampyre being interviewed by you into a mockery, setting the tone for your future following as something insincere and not to be taken as ethical or serious journalism, something akin to “People Magazine”, “Daily Sun” and other tabloids.
Your article is dotted with exaggerations and imagined connections, most outrageous of which is the one which creates an imagined connection between being a Vampyre and self-harming behavior, in which you overtly suggest that self-harming behavior in a child should provide a clue to a parent that a child is a Vampyre!
Self-harming behavior is an illness which affects many different kinds of people, and is not an indicator of having a vampyric nature or being a Vampyre.
In this, you have created an association between self-harming behavior and the Vampyre community! This is simply not true, and this mis-association is one which could well bring misfortune to both self-harmers and real self-identifying Vampyres as two distinct entities and the kind of hysteria this sort of misinformation could set off poses a very real threat to anyone in South Africa (a country which continues to struggle with a satanic panic hysteria) who could be victimized on the misunderstanding that they be perceived as “dangerous” by others who simply do not understand us.
One would think that as an alternative publication which hopes to portray alternative lifestyles and identities for the consumption or interest of the alternative lifestyle and subculture community, AltSA would endeavor to portray their target audiences interests accurately and in a manner in which does not offend and alienate this target audience. If this becomes a habit, why would anyone or any alternative lifestyle group continue to be willing to be interviewed by your publication – or to read it?
From this article it is now clear that your publication is about sensation and shock value and not about conveying accurate representations of people or subculture identities you interview – and also that your assurances of conveying such are – shall we say, insincere?
Incidentally, AltSA was supposed to provide a preview of the article to the interviewee for approval once the final edit had been completed, as well as to me as the intermediary – an agreement not adhered to on your part (referred to in our last email conversation on 04 Sept 2013). Instead, the article simply went live with the rest of your publication as it went up on its website. Was this because you knew all too well that we would not have approved of the content? This omission in itself speaks volumes of the level of journalistic integrity adhered to by your publication.
In future we as the South African Vampyre Alliance will avoid any contact with your publication or its affiliates, and we will spread the word throughout our community for others to follow suit.
Regent of the South African Vampyre Alliance