The South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF) is disturbed to learn of an article published on SAFA’s website titled “City Press tendencies, typical of Stratcom behaviour”. While SANEF respects the South African Football Association’s (SAFA) right to challenge articles penned and published or broadcast by journalists, it is the name-calling and labelling of journalists and media houses that we find unnecessary.
SANEF’s rallying call is for political parties and other interested groups to approach the Ombud’s office through the Press Council and the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of South Africa (BCCSA), as independent judicial tribunals to challenge the accuracy of reports and those that breach media ethics and principles.
We also wish to remind SAFA that in January this year, Prof. Anton Harber and Thandeka Gqubule-Mbeki won their defamation case against the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) for calling them spies associated with Stratcom, and the court declared that the allegations were defamatory and false.
We wish to reiterate that the labelling of journalists as members of ‘Stratcom’ – which was a notorious propaganda and disinformation unit of the security police under Apartheid – is dangerous and demeaning.
We believe that it is better to have an incorrect report properly investigated and sanctions imposed than resorting to social media attacks on journalists and creating a toxic atmosphere of conspiracy-mongering and hatemongering towards journalists and the media in general.
We also wish to remind SAFA about the agreement SANEF reached on 18 September 2019 at a roundtable at SAFA House, where we discussed ways to enhance the mutual understanding around football matters and administration.
The roundtable, attended by SAFA leadership and SANEF members, including SAFA President Danny Jordaan and CEO, Russel Paul and SANEF’s Gauteng Convenor, Hopewell Radebe, agreed on five principles of engagement going forward:
- Open and honest engagements between SAFA and the media;
- Access to SAFA leadership and players;
- A level playing field where all media are granted fair and unbiased access to information and the need for SAFA to improve communication around its’ agenda, strategy, progress and challenges against its goals and finances; and
- Availability and repository of data.
The fundamental underlying principle which both parties emphasized was the mutual respect for the independence of and upholding of the integrity of media organisations and their stakeholders. We hope that SAFA will keep its promise.
Note to 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 and education and training programmes. SANEF is not a union.
For more information please contact:
Mahlatse Mahlase – SANEF Chairperson, (083) 399-2852
Katy Katopodis – SANEF Deputy Chairperson (082) 805-7022
Moipone Malefane – SANEF Secretary General (082) 772-5861
Mary Papayya – Acting SANEF Media Freedom Chair (082) 379-4957
Judy Sandison – SANEF KZN Convenor (082) 571-3334
Sbu Ngalwa – SANEF Eastern Cape Convenor (073) 404-1415
Janet Heard – SANEF Western Cape SANEF Convenor, (078) 041-9528
Hopewell Radebe – SANEF Acting Gauteng Regional Convenor (083) 582-1734
Kate Skinner – SANEF Executive Director – (082) 926-6404
Email: [email protected] Website: www.sanef.org.za