A council meeting of the SA National Editors’ Forum was held in Cape Town on Saturday February 13, 2016. Council deliberated extensively on the changing media landscape, the commercial and other pressures and their implications on editorial independence.

The consequences of such pressures have manifested themselves in the form of direct proprietal/managerial interference in editorial decision-making processes and indirectly through the blurring of the lines between advertising and editorial.

This conflictual and strained relationship between editors and proprietors/managers has resulted in the resignation of a number of editors over the past two years, an untenable situation that threatens the very essence of media freedom that is crucial to the sustenance of our democracy.

In light of these serious threats and in recognition of the real implications of the evolvement of our industry, council decided to commission research on the new media landscape and possible models and solutions. We envisage that such a process could culminate in a meeting with media proprietors/managers to establish new rules of engagement with regard to editorial independence and ethical advertising. Until such time that our research is concluded, Sanef calls on proprietors and management to allow editors to exercise their editorial discretion and work without any interference.

Council also met the leadership of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) and agreed that there is a need for an urgent engagement with political parties about respecting the role of the media and protecting journalists from any form of political harassment and intimidation.

We also agreed that Sanef should urgently meet the leadership of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) to discuss the implications of their decision to threaten journalists from media outlets owned by the Gupta family. Council also heard a presentation from Deputy Minister of Public Service and Administration, Ayanda Dlodlo, who chairs the global Open Government Partnership.

We agreed that her OGP office will help sensitise government officials about their legal obligations to provide information to the public in line with the Promotion of Access to Information Act and to give expression to the principle of open governance.

For more information contact:
Sanef Executive Director
Mathatha Tsedu
082 454 0527