Press Council commends media for defending SA’s press freedom
The body says members ‘extended democracy and ensured an open society by robustly exposing corruption and malfeasance’
The Press Council of SA (PCSA) has paid tribute to the media for “robustly defending and growing press freedom” in the country.
Commemorating October 19, Media Freedom Day, PCSA executive director Latiefa Mobara said Press Council members had “extended democracy and ensured an open society by robustly exposing corruption and malfeasance at all levels of society”.
“Our remarkable press freedom and the determination of the media to expose wrongdoing is playing a vital role in society,” she said.
Mobara said media owners and journalists are overwhelmingly endorsing and implementing the Press Code of SA in their reporting.
“Our code ensures journalism is fair, accurate, responsible and accountable. The Press Council keeps journalism fair by mediating and adjudicating complaints against our members, and it is fair to say in the vast majority of complaints we find our members have adhered to the press code.
SA’s media, particularly those who subscribe to the Press Council, are trusted in a world where fake news and untested allegations and rumours aboundPCSA executive director Latiefa Mobara
“As a result, SA’s media — particularly those who subscribe to the Press Council — are trusted in a world where fake news and untested allegations and rumours abound.”
Mobara said in the decade from 2013, the PCSA received more than 5,000 complaints against its members.
“In most cases, our public advocate and press ombuds found in favour of the media. For example, in 2021 we received 845 complaints. Of those, only 32 were referred to the press ombuds for adjudication and only three were taken on appeal to the Press Council’s appeals panel.”
Most complaints were resolved by mediation by the council’s public advocate, Fanie Groenewald; were declined as having no merit; or were withdrawn by the complainants.
“We are often accused by complainants of being biased in favour of our media members. Nothing could be further from the truth. Our independent co-regulatory system of mediation and adjudication is designed to ensure majority public representation at every level,” said Mobara.
“Our ombuds are independent and robust. Our public advocate assists complainants throughout the process. Those unhappy with rulings can appeal to an independent appeal panel chaired by a former judge, Bernard Ngoepe.
“We are very proud of the robustness and independence of our mediation and adjudication system. Complainants get a very fair hearing.
“As we celebrate Media Freedom Day, which marks Black Wednesday — October 19 1977, when SA’s apartheid government banned three publications and outlawed several anti-apartheid groups in a one-day crackdown — SA’s media can be immensely proud of what they have achieved in the most difficult trading conditions to reinforce, extend and defend hard-won, responsible media freedom in our country.”
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