The South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF) is concerned by an ANC statement published on 6 May 2020 in which it accused a national weekend newspaper, Rapport of peddling misinformation.
The ANC statement failed to mention the title and author of the article, date of publication and page where the alleged false headlines and content were published.
Editor of Rapport, Waldimar Pelser states, “accusations of spreading misinformation should not be made without offering evidence of factual errors, which after three days, the ANC had not yet produced. In this case, we believe the only “mistake” we made was to upset the ANC by reporting on government’s attempts to centralise the distribution of food parcels, which lead to thousands of KZN families waiting more than a week for aid.”
While SANEF recognizes the right of the ANC to challenge reports and to express its opinions on any article published, we believe it needs to back up its accusations with relevant facts. Further, we believe that the ANC should have engaged with the editor and/or reported any inaccuracies to the Press Ombud’s office.
The Press Ombud, in the case of online and print publications and the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of South Africa (BCCSA) in the case of broadcasting, has powers to investigate and sanction media houses that report false or inaccurate information. SANEF calls on the ANC to recognize these processes and mechanisms for channelling complaints. We believe that in this way it will then lead by example.
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 – Acting SANEF Chairperson, (082) 805-7022
Moipone Malefane – SANEF Secretary-General (082) 772-5861
Mary Papayya – Acting SANEF Media Freedom Chair (082) 379-4957
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
Judy Sandison – SANEF KZN Convenor (082) 571-3334
Kate Skinner – SANEF Executive Director – (082) 926-6404