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SANEF appalled at shortlisting of the “Baby Trade” story for the INMA Awards

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The South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF) is appalled at the retention of a false report about the so-called birth of Decuplets in Gauteng as a shortlisted piece of journalism for the upcoming Global Media Awards.

This story – first published by Independent Media’s Pretoria News last year – is entered under the category, “Best Use of Social Media” in the International News Media Awards (INMA).

SANEF has written to the INMA to express its concern, but despite this – the video series remains one of the nominees. We also find it entirely unsatisfactory that in its response, the INMA says the judges were “judging the quality of the social media campaign – not the story itself”.

The INMA further went on to state it is “not in a position to reverse their jury’s decision to shortlist the social media campaign, given the information at their disposal during the judging process in February 2022, the additional context surrounding the story will be weighed in the ongoing process to select winners which will be announced by INMA in June 2022.”

This response is unfortunately not good enough for SANEF, as it legitimises a campaign borne out of a story that has been proven not only to be ludicrous, but also an embarrassment to South African journalism.

Unfortunately, the embarrassment continues as the same newspaper group, a paying member of INMA, continues to publish more stories that seek to purport the legitimacy of the decuplets’ so-called birth. It is important to note that the ten babies are still to be seen and no proof has ever been provided that they do in fact exist.

This report has no basis in truth, is factually inaccurate and contributes to the spread of disinformation, deliberately misleading audiences. It’s now public knowledge and widely accepted that the piece perpetuates disinformation and has been flagged for its total lack of verification, and deeply questionable ‘sources’.

The legitimacy of the entire so-called story has been called into question. As the June awards fast approach, we call on the INMA to reconsider its stance. The Decuplets report has been condemned by the Gauteng Provincial Government, and the medical fraternity at large … with all key role players distancing themselves from it.

It is not only fake, but also dangerous as it seriously sets back the advances made by the country in protecting women and children. Ethical journalism and building public trust are the cornerstones of good journalistic practices – yet this piece majestically fails at both.

We urgently call on the INMA, as a business associated with reputable publishers worldwide, to immediately remove the shortlisting of this piece from this category, further noting how Independent Media’s own internal ombudsman, in a ruling dated 5 July 2021, flagged the initial story as having ‘failed to pass the basic principles of journalism’ and amounted to a ‘hoax.’

For more information please contact:

Sbu Ngalwa – SANEF Chairperson (073) 404-1415

Adriaan Basson – SANEF Deputy Chairperson (082) 562-2113

Monica Laganparsad – Acting Secretary-General (082) 578-6111

Nwabisa Makunga – Treasurer (082) 555-1972

Makhudu Sefara – SANEF Acting Media Freedom Chair (079) 177-2134

Asanda Ngoasheng – Western Cape Convenor – 082 610-9374

Judy Sandison – SANEF KZN Convenor (082) 571-3334

Katy Katopodis – SANEF Gauteng Convenor (082) 805-7022

Chiara Carter – SANEF Eastern Cape Convenor (082) 659-9162

Reggy Moalusi – SANEF Executive Director (071) 682-3695

Twitter: @SAEditorsForum

Email: [email protected] Website: www.sanef.org.za