Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Its going to be an all out assault on media freedom I am afraid......

The mood from our government is to control the media at all costs it seems! This can only be described as a massive blow to democracy in South Africa. It does not have the blessing of thinking South Africans as we keep being led to believe by the government!

The mood in yesterdays meeting between media editors and the ANC was robust as the below report indicates...........

The ANC and police boss Bheki Cele yesterday assured the media that they were not out to clamp down on their freedom.

Two separate meetings in Johannesburg followed a public outcry about the arrest last week of Sunday Times journalist Mzilikazi wa Afrika and the ANC's proposals on media regulation.

Cele, who met editors behind closed doors at the SA National Editors' Forum offices, said the police will continue to talk to media houses about how to improve working relationships between journalists and the police.

Soon after the meeting, Cele said the discussions with editors were "robust".

He said he had asked for the meeting with editors to ensure that reporters reported accurately and factually.

"We are not coming here to be nice to each other. We want to do our work without hindrance. Journalists must not hinder police and vice versa," he said.

Forum chairman Mondli Makhanya said Wa Afrika's arrest marked a significant point in the relationship between the police and the media.

He said the forum was concerned about how the police arrested Wa Afrika, the way in which he was detained and the way in which he was treated by the police.

The meeting did not delve into Wa Afrika's arrest because it is the subject of a court case.

ANC spokesman and drafter of the discussion document on the media, Jackson Mthembu, said the proposed media appeals tribunal must not be seen as an instrument for punishing the media. He said the outcry over the tribunal was one-sided and exaggerated.

"In whatever we do, there is no interest on the part of the ANC to limit the freedom that all of us enjoy, including the press," he said.

"Your reaction, as opposed to the reaction of the ordinary man and woman, was different. Ordinary people agree [with us]."

Mthembu said the media's reaction was not helpful.

"You just want us to drop the issue," he said.

Mthembu's discussion document deals with media transformation, ownership and diversity.

He said it was unfortunate that the media were "fighting" one aspect of the document: the media appeals tribunal.

He said the way in which the media regulated itself must be open to debate.

Mthembu said the tribunal would "strengthen, complement and support" the Press Ombudsman, and punitive measures were needed to stop "the cycle of offences" committed by the print media.

"We are going to use the existing press code that is at the centre of ethical journalism, except to say that, if you go against this code, there should be punitive measures," Mthembu said, adding that "we are surprised by this outrage".

He said the ANC's forthcoming national general council meeting would consider media ownership, currently dominated by Avusa, Media 24, Caxton and Independent Newspapers.

Original story Media-tribunal-not-an-instrument-to-punish