13 August 2012
The South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) is disturbed by attempts by the Premier Soccer League (PSL) to turn football journalists into professional gamblers through a new competition launched last week.
The competition, announced by PSL chairman Irvin Khoza on Friday, seeks to reward journalists who correctly predict the outcomes of football games and the league with prize money of up to R500 000.
In announcing the competition, Khoza stated that “the PSL has extensively consulted and enquired if this competition involving journalists that cover its space raises any ethical issues.” He said this consultation process had concluded that “just like journalism awards recognise and reward journalists without compromising the integrity of the profession, this competition does not compromise the ethics and integrity of the journalists covering the Absa Premiership.”
Sanef wishes to place on record that it was not party to this “extensive” consultation process nor is it aware of any other credible industry bodies that were consulted about this competition.
Had Sanef been consulted, we would have made it clear to the PSL that the competition undermines the ethics of our profession. This competition seeks to turn journalists who use their skills to report and analyse football into gamblers. It risks opening the door for corrupt practices which our profession has no desire to be part of.
Equating this competition with other awards is disingenuous. Genuine journalism awards reward excellence and hard work.
The proposed competition is also a direct violation of our professional codes, which state that journalists should avoid conflicts of interest and “arrangements or practices that could lead audiences to doubt the press’s independence and professionalism.”
However, should journalists wish to participate in lotteries and sweepstakes in their individual capacities they are free to do so. But this cannot be done under the guise of professional work. Journalists are not allowed to use their roles in media outlets – broadcast, print and digital – for gambling purposes.
Sanef will be seeking a meeting with the PSL to voice our concerns about this competition and its potentially corrosive impact on journalism and media ethics.
Issued by the SA National Editors’ Forum (SANEF)