African National Congress (ANC) president Jacob Zuma's attack on the
print media on Friday reveals a "hostile state of mind towards the
media", says the South African National Editors' Forum (Sanef), according to a report on M&G Online.
"The attack on the media contains wild generalisations encompassing the media as a whole," it said in a statement on Friday in response to Zuma's weekly ANC Today online newsletter in which he said South African media were "politically and ideologically" out of sync with the society in which they operate.
"There are few, if any, mainstream media outlets that articulate a progressive left perspective," Zuma said.
Sanef said Zuma's letter contained no specific allegations and therefore did not merit a reply.
However, the generalised complaint that the media were politically and ideologically out of sync with the society in which they exist could be answered "by suggesting that the ANC president and the ANC carefully read the many readers' letters columns in the newspapers, which will tell them what the people think".
The forum also said it welcomed Zuma's stated intention to widen the channel of communication between the ANC and South African citizens.
Zuma said in his letter that last month's ANC national conference had called for the movement to develop its own media platforms.
"This needs to take place alongside the effort to transform the South African media environment so that it becomes more representative of the diversity of views and interests in society, more accessible to the majority of the people and less beholden to commercial interests," he said.
Sanef said it would welcome any new print media enterprise that would "increase the flow of non-propagandist information from the party and especially the government".
The forum also said it would take Zuma's non-mention of an ANC proposal to investigate the setting up of a media tribunal as a sign the proposal had been dropped. "That is to be welcomed because such a tribunal would conflict with constitutional media freedom."
In his newsletter, Zuma said the overall orientation of South African media is "politically conservative". He said the media are not simply the product of disinterested and detached observers. "It is instead a product of the various political, social, economic and cultural forces that exist within a society. It is a battle of ideas, and, as such, the media are part of the battle for power.
Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â Click here to read the full report, posted on M&G Online.