There are moments where the South African media falls short, eroding trust in journalism at a time when accountability, factual and fair reporting are crucial.
To restore trust in the media, the South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF) commissioned an independent inquiry headed by retired Judge Kathleen Satchwell and panelists and her fellow panelists Rich Mkhondo and Nikiwe Bikitsha to investigate ethical lapses facing local journalism.
When this seminal inquiry report was released in January 2020, SANEF undertook the role to “interrogate” the recommendations and develop an action plan to implement some of the findings.
This report now forms the basis of a four-part series of webinars, bringing together key stakeholders for an in-depth review of the Satchwell Report findings. Each webinar will define key recommendations to put forward during a national online conference in May.
The webinar series will take a deep dive into the seven industry categories of recommendations outlined in the report. The discussions will contribute and build-up to the conference. The conference will work towards debating the recommendations that should be included in the five-year ethics action plan.
May marks World Press Freedom Month and on May 3 various events will be held to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Windhoek Declaration celebrated under the theme of “Information as a Public Good”.
“The SANEF ethics conference planned for later in the month will bring together journalists from across the country, civil society and other role players to develop a clear plan to implement the report recommendations,” said SANEF Secretary General Mahlatse Mahlase.
“The terms of reference of the inquiry were to look at possibilities of ethical lapses across the industry and to find solutions to enhance quality, ethical journalism. More than ever journalists need to strengthen the bond of trust with the public and we can only do that when we openly confront what is wrong and correct it,” Mahlase said.
The panel engaged with 167 individuals and entities, perused about 200 documents and sought ad hoc research inputs (including a comprehensive longitudinal study of the work of the South African Press Council). Newsroom practitioners, owners, academics, consumers and concerned individuals and institutions also gave their input. Their ideas guided the final 69 recommendations which covered seven thematic areas.
Interested persons can sign up to participate in the webinar discussions on the following dates.
Do join on Wednesday for this critical session:
Webinar 1: Building an Ethical Framework for SA Journalism
Wednesday April 21, 2021 at 3pm – 5pm
Theme 1 – Media Freedom including dealing with mis and disinformation.
Theme 2 – Media Diversity including counteracting racial and gender biases and prejudices, racism and sexism in the media.
Moderated by SANEF Ethics Committee Chair Monica Laganparsad with expert input from Report Panellist Rich Mkhondo, Former Ombud Joe Thloloe and Rhodes University Professor Anthea Garmen.
Webinar 2: Using Ethics as a Tool for Change
Friday April 23, 2021 at 3pm – 5pm
Theme 3 – Strengthening ethics codes and principles
Theme 4 – Strengthening the regulators
Moderated by SANEF Media Freedom Committee chair Mary Papayya with expert input from Wits University Professor Franz Kruger Aidan White, Ethical Journalism Network and PCSA director Latiefa Mobara.
Webinar 3: Technological Impact on Ethics
Wednesday, April 28, 2021, at 10 am – 12 am
Theme 5 – Safety of journalists
Theme 6 – Strengthening Continuing professional development
Moderated by SANEF E&T Committee chair Tshamano Makhadi with expert input from International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF) executive director Elisa Munoz and Africa Check executive director Noko Makgato.
Webinar 4: Media Sustainability
Wednesday 05 May 2021 at 10 am – 11 am
Theme 7 – Financial sustainability of the media
Moderated by Access to Information and Media Policy Committee chair Izak Minnaar.
The conference will map the vision of South Africa’s media journey to date. It will be a means to collaborate on the vision for tomorrow’s media that will hopefully reflect more accountable, more factual, and fairer reporting processes.
Conference details will be released soon. Access the Media Ethics and Credibility report here.