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SECOND ALERT TO OUR MEMBERS AND THE MEDIA INDUSTRY CORONAVIRUS DISEASE (COVID 19)

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced plans to combat the spread of COVID-19 at the Union Buildings        Photo: GCIS

The South African National Editors Forum (SANEF) notes the President’s important address to the nation on the spread and containment of the Coronavirus on 15 March. As stated previously SANEF is committed to assisting government to communicate information pertaining to the spread and containment of the virus and to the safety of journalists covering the disease.

SANEF is heartened by the steps taken by media organisations to protect their journalists in the field. Further, we are pleased that technology is making it easier for non-field staff, in some newsrooms, to work from home. SANEF understands that it is essential for reporters to continue reporting the facts around COVID-19 but that journalists’ safety equally needs to be safeguarded.

In terms of health and safety of journalists, SANEF refers all journalists to the excellent information produced by the Committee to Protect Journalists included on our website –

https://sanef.org.za/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/CPJ-Safety-Advisory_-Covering-the-coronavirus-outbreak-Committee-to-Protect-Journalists-002-1.pdf

In the interests of protecting all our communities, we note the importance of all media organisations ensuring the protection of their cleaning and administration staff.

As an organisation promoting media freedom and credibility of the media, we will be providing our members and industry with various toolkits and platforms to facilitate the reporting on COVID-19 in a responsible and ethical manner.

We are working closely with GCIS, the Department of Health and the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) to make sure the flow of information is timeous, accurate and factual.

SANEF notes the damage of the spread of misinformation, disinformation and sensationalism. We thus stress the importance of all journalists relying on expert advice and sources and to scrutinize all information extra carefully before sharing it. The news media particularly, has a duty to counteract “fake news”.  Further, we believe that journalists should avoid creating and distributing graphs, graphics and pictures that could be misleading and /or have not been specifically vetted by experts in the field. SANEF believes that the following organisations are credible sources.

–           The National Institute for Communicable Diseases

–           The Covid-19 South African coronavirus news and information portal.

–           The World Health Organisation

–           First Draft.

–           Africa Check 

SANEF is committed to supporting all media organisations in their fight to contain the spread of the virus. We note the critical role of our public broadcaster and all community media organisations in sharing credible, fact-checked news – due to their unique reach in terms of our most marginalized and vulnerable communities.

If media houses would like support – or would like to share their views – as regards protecting journalists covering the virus, we encourage them to contact us on [email protected].

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, education and training programmes. SANEF is not a union.

For more information contact

  • Katy Katopodis – Acting SANEF Chairperson, (082) 805-7022
  • Mary Papayya – Acting SANEF Media Freedom Chair (082) 379-4957
  • Judy Sandison – SANEF KZN Convenor 0825713334
  • Sbu Ngalwa – SANEF Eastern Cape Convenor (073) 404-1415
  • Janet Heard – SANEF Western Cape SANEF Convenor, 0780419528
  • Hopewell Radebe – SANEF Acting Gauteng Regional Convenor 083 582 1734
  • Kate Skinner – SANEF Executive Director – 082 926 6404

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