ACDP supports journalist suspension

2014-01-25 09:04
(Duncan Alfreds, News24)

(Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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Johannesburg - Independent Newspapers has maintained editorial integrity by suspending senior journalist Donwald Pressly, for allegedly applying to be on a political party's list of parliamentary candidates for the general election, the ACDP said on Friday.

"Members of the public who buy newspapers are entitled to read the objective, unbiased truth," African Christian Democratic Party spokesperson Palesa Yates said in a statement.

"Those who want to learn about a particular political party's point of view can approach that party for campaigning material," she said.

Independent Newspapers announced his suspension on Friday.

"Pressly has recently sought elected political office with a political party, by applying to the said party's electoral college to be on its list of candidates for Parliament during the 2014 general elections," group executive editor Karima Brown said in a statement.


"Mr Pressly did this without informing his editor, and while continuing to write news as well as opinion and analysis on the said political party without declaring his political intentions to our readers," she said.

Pressly is Business Report's Cape Town bureau chief.

Brown said that if the allegation was true, it would constitute a breach of the newspaper group's editorial code of conduct, code of ethics, and a breach of trust.

Pressly said he was not allowed to comment about the matter and referred queries to his attorney Michael Bagraim, who said his client had been honest about his political affiliation.

"He [Pressly] has admitted to belonging to the Democratic Alliance. He is not hiding the fact. He has been honest," he said.

"As citizens, most of us should belong to political parties; that's good citizenship."

Bagraim said he had not yet spoken to Pressly and would see him only next week.

Political influence

In November, Business Day reported that the Sunday Times's executive editor Brendan Boyle had been suspended after allegedly applying to become a Democratic Alliance MP.

The next month, Boyle wrote on his blog he had resigned to settle a dispute "over the fact that I considered ending a long journalistic career in service of the public interest with an epilogue of public service in Parliament".

"I had no prior association with the DA beyond the normal relationship between reporters and the parties they write about. I am not and never have been a member of the DA or any other political party," he wrote.

He knew that if he decided to take that route, he would have to resign from journalism even before signing up as a member of the party.

Before deciding to change careers, he started going through the DA's pre-selection process as a confidential candidate, but this became known, and when pressed to take a position, he chose to "stick with what I knew and to pull out of the pre-selection process".

In August, the SA National Editors' Forum (Sanef) encouraged members of the public and parties to complain to the Press Ombudsman if they believed a story was written due to political or other influences.

"If members of the public or political parties suspect that a particular journalist has improper relationships and is being influenced, and that his/her behaviour is improper, they should complain to that journalist's employer who will deal with it in line with its own policies," it said at the time.

"As Sanef, we recommend that once the name of a journalist appears, with his or her consent, on a political party's official list of candidates to the Independent Electoral Commission, such journalist should resign his or her position as a journalist, even though they might not be guaranteed a seat after the election."
Read more on:    da  |  acdp  |  politics

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