“We believe that if anyone has any evidence of unethical journalism, including the very serious breach of accepting funds for journalism, they should go to the Press Council”
The South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) has expressed shock at Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe’s “brazen alleged admission that he paid two Sunday World journalists to ‘bury’ a story about his relationship with student Lerato Habiba Makgatho”, and pledged Sanef’s support for action against unethical journalism.
“According to the Sunday World, Mantashe paid the journalists
R70 000 to ‘destroy evidence’ backing the story. Mantashe has not revealed the names of the journalists,” Sanef said in a statement yesterday.
Sanef believed that “paid for”, or what was known as “brown envelope” journalism, was completely counter to journalism ethics. Section 2 of the Press Council Code dealt with “independence and conflicts of interest”.
The code stated clearly that “The media shall 2.1 not allow commercial, political, personal or other non-professional considerations to influence reporting, and avoid conflicts of interest as well as practices that could lead readers to doubt the media’s independence and professionalism; 2.2 not accept any benefit which may influence coverage; 2.3 indicate clearly when an outside organisation has contributed to the cost of news-gathering; and 2.4 keep editorial material clearly distinct from advertising and sponsored events”.
Sanef would write to Mantashe to request that he reveal the names of the journalists involved. Sanef would also support Sunday World’s investigations into the matter, including their commitment to fire journalists if there was concrete evidence of them taking a bribe, and ensuring that all their journalists sign pledges to ensure ethical journalism. Sanef would further add a specific clause to its “draft rules of engagement” with political parties to call for politicians to support an outright ban on any form of “brown envelope” journalism.
“Sanef champions ethical journalism. We believe that if anyone has any evidence of unethical journalism, including the very serious breach of accepting funds for journalism, they should go to the Press Council.
“Further, we want to remind the public that we have launched our own independent inquiry into media credibility and ethics, chaired by retired Judge Kathleen Satchwell. We encourage any South African with evidence of journalists acting unethically or illegally to approach Judge Satchwell and the authorities. Please send submissions to – [email protected],” Sanef said.
– African News Agency (ANA)