The South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF) is happy to announce that important progress has been made regarding the independent Media Ethics and Credibility Inquiry.
The Panel of Enquiry was launched at the end of June 2019, with funding raised by SANEF. The Inquiry is run by an independent panel, chaired by retired Judge Kathleen Satchwell and includes panelists, Nikiwe Bikitsha and Rich Mkhondo.
By mid-December 2019, the Panel had rigorously engaged with 55 substantive submissions, many of which required follow-up including oral hearings and further research. Among a number of issues, the Inquiry has been engaging with the Sunday Times SARS “Rogue Unit” story.
The deadline for unsolicited submissions was originally set for November 2019 but has now been extended to the end of January 2020 to ensure as much engagement with the public as possible.
Way forward The Panel will conclude receiving unsolicited approaches by the end of January 2020. SANEF encourages all interested individuals and organisations to contact the panel via email – [email protected] within the remaining 15 days.
The Panel will then spend February to April 2020 following up with further meetings with selected individuals and organisations, reviewing their own and the research of others. The panelists anticipate submitting the final Report to SANEF in June 2020 to enable us to engage with the contents and proposals and to prepare for our planned media industry conference in October 2020. The plan is for the conference to adopt a media industry action plan and for media houses to sign an ethics pledge.
Original impetus for the Inquiry The impetus for the Inquiry were the apologies made by the Sunday Times in terms of their “Rogue Unit”, Cato Manor and Zimbabwe Rendition stories. Also, allegations were made at the Zondo Commission by security and prison services company, BOSASA that they had paid journalists to ensure positive coverage. SANEF welcomed the apologies by the Sunday Times but we felt that this was only the first step in rebuilding public trust. We stated that we saw this as a moment for the newspaper – but also for all media houses – to seriously introspect and review editorial systems and practices to enhance media ethics and credibility.
Please see the terms of reference of the Inquiry here.
Note for Editors: The South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF) is a non-profit organisation whose members are editors, senior journalists and journalism trainers from all areas of the South African media. We are committed to championing South Africa’s hard-won freedom of expression and promoting quality, ethics and diversity in the South African media. We promote excellence in journalism through fighting for media freedom, writing policy submissions, research, education and training programmes.
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