The South African National Editors’ Forum will hold its first council meeting of the year
on Saturday, February 13, at the Cullinan Hotel in Cape Town.
Guest speakers are Chief Electoral Officer Vuma Mashinini on the IEC’s preparations for the local government election and Deputy Minister of Public Service and Administration, Ayanda Dlodlo, who co-chairs the global Open Government Partnership.As has been the case previously, quarterly council meetings offer editors the opportunity for introspection and robust debate about the state of the media industry. The media landscape has changed dramatically over the past five to seven years. Digital has exploded as the new normal, but without the concomitant revenue to support growth. Legacy media have in the main stagnated or regressed, with a huge impact on the revenues that support its outlets and the digital growth.
The squeeze on revenues has spawned new pressures on media companies and industry bodies, including job losses. Of particular concern for Sanef is that the state of affairs is not only unhealthy for editorial departments to fulfill their functions, but that it may also result in increased tensions between editors and management. Top of the council agenda will therefore be a discussion about the apparent threats to media freedom and editorial independence from within the industry itself.
Sanef is particularly concerned about the spate of editor resignations and the loss of experienced journalists over the past 24 months, amid persistent rumors and speculation about editorial interference by media management executives. Sanef believes that editors must defend the right of South Africans to get news and information from reliable independent outlets and editorial teams. These outlets and teams must remain independent from management and business, as well as political pressures, including the threatened Media Appeals Tribunal and the Protection of State Information Bill that still hangs over the industry’s head.
Other issues to be discussed include media ethics, given the allegations against some journalists of unethical and criminal conduct, as well as other alleged contraventions of the Press and Broadcasting Codes. Council will also receive an update on efforts to ensure that journalists and photographers are able to do their jobs without interference from the police and/or members of the public.In this past month alone, a photographer was assaulted and his equipment taken in Cape Town. Despite laying charges with the police, no progress has been made. Also in Cape Town, a journalist was attacked at a political event and had his glasses smashed and in another incident, police threatened to shoot a journalist who was filming them on duty.Sanef’s management committee encourages Sanef members to attend the council meeting and to participate in the discussions. A media statement will be released after the day-long gathering.
Sanef executive director