5% of journalists know ethical code
Anesca Smith, Die Burger
Stellenbosch - Only about five percent of journalists know the ethical code for journalists or have seen it, according to Johan Retief, deputy press ombudsman.
So even though the industry could improve, he still believes that self-regulation is the democratic answer for the South African media.
Retief on Monday gave a overview of the progress being made regarding the improvement of the self-regulation mechanism by the press ombud and the Press Council at the journalism department at Stellenbosch University.
This comes amid serious concerns that the government wants to gag the media with the proposed Protection of Information Act and the planned media appeals tribunal.
New press code
Retief expects a new press code to be announced by February at the earliest. This may well involve drastic changes, such as better protection for children in the printed media.
"I have no doubt that the ANC wants control over the media. Nevertheless we should thank the ANC, because if it hadn't given us a push, we probably wouldn't have paid attention to the matter."
He went on to say his own research showed that 86% of countries follow a system of self-regulation rather than independent regulation.
"In South Africa we have an interesting marriage between the two, since the Press Council consists of six representatives from the media industry and six from the public. The chairperson is also a former journalist.
"The chairperson of the appeals panel, however, is a judge appointed by the country's chief justice," he said.
According to Retief, the shortening of the complaints procedure is also one of the issues which are currently under consideration.