Voices missing, says Press Council

2011-03-01 11:03

It was thought that more ordinary South Africans would talk to the Press Council of South Africa during its current series of public hearings, Press Ombudsman Joe Thloloe said today.

“I was hoping that more public members would come to speak,” said Thloloe, after only a handful had come forward.

The council ended its local two-day public hearings, in a bid to review its system, in Bloemfontein today.

The review was intended to help improve the quality of journalism in the country. The council was looking at possible changes to the Press Code, its procedures and constitution.

Thloloe said he had the idea that many ordinary citizens thought the hearings were of a technical nature.
“They are reluctant to come forward,” he said.

In Bloemfontein, a member of the public admitted that he was scared to come forward because he might make a fool of himself.

Thloloe said press freedom was vital for each citizen in the country and the public should take advantage of the current public hearings.

The council had received various written submissions which had contributed to the “depth” of the issues identified.

At the public hearings the council wanted to hear the voice of ordinary citizens, along with that of academics, media institutions and media activists.

Thus far, the only group of students attending the hearings was a group of masters’ students in Port Elizabeth.

Thloloe said there was however no concern about the levels of public interest shown.

“We are happy, we gave them a chance. This is an important thing and they did know about it.”

The next round of public hearings will take place in Durban on Thursday and Friday.

Written submissions can still be made to the council until March 15, 2011. The submissions will be considered during a two-day workshop of the Press Council of SA.

A report will be tabled before the council on March 24.

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