Regulations will 'make journalism stronger'

2012-10-03 20:35
(Picture: <a href="http://www.shutterstock.com">Shutterstock</a> )

(Picture: Shutterstock )

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Johannesburg - Changes to the SA Press Code were intended to strengthen journalism in South African, Press Ombudsman Joe Thloloe said on Wednesday.

"The Press Council and the print industry believe that this strengthened system will promote and develop ethical practices in journalism," Thloloe said at the formal release of the SA Press Code in Johannesburg.

The code is formulated by the Press Council. Complaints based on it against the media are taken to the Office of the Press Ombudsman for adjudication.

While the text of the present code was unchanged, three appendixes were added and would take effect from January 1 next year.

The system would move from self-regulation to a "voluntary independent co-regulatory system" with a 13-person Press Council to be chaired by a retired judge, with six representatives from the press and six from the public outside the industry.

This meant that a majority of the council would be from outside the industry.

Staff numbers at the Press Council would be "beefed up", with a director and a public advocate to be hired.

Thloloe said the public advocate would be responsible for "championing" complaints through the ombudsman process. He or she would also be able to initiate complaints if a publication was believed to have transgressed the code.

Third-party complaints would be allowed under the amended code.

In a major change, a legal waiver to be signed by complainants before seeking relief from the Press Ombudsman had been done away with.

Under the existing code, complainants had to waive their right to legal action before the Press Ombudsman could begin work.

Press Council chairperson Raymond Louw said this was done due to the reservations of media houses, who feared they would now be subjected to two processes.

They were also worried that information they gave in an ombudsman hearing could later be used against them in a court room.

Louw and Thloloe said because of these concerns, the waiver would be in place for a year before being reviewed.

Thloloe said seeking legal representation for the complaints process would be discouraged. This was to stop a legal "arms race" where parties continually sought more and better representation for their cases.

Publications found to be offending would be told how to issue corrections. If they refused, they could incur financial penalties or expulsion from the Press Council.

Findings by the Press Ombudsman would be handed down within 21 days of a hearing. Thloloe said this would be possible because of the increased staff and new processes.

Ticking the boxes

SA National Editor's Forum chairperson Mondli Makhanya said the new code would be important to maintaining media credibility.

"A system must not only be credible, it must be seen as credible," Makhanya said.

He said many of the mistakes made by journalists that warranted penalties were not due to inaccuracy, but involved "ticking the boxes" of journalistic procedure.

Correcting these errors, and being above reproach, was important to protect journalists from those in South Africa who opposed media freedom.

"We must make sure we do not do anything to put weapons in their hands," Makhanya said.

Thloloe said changes to the SA Press Code were not an appeasement to the African National Congress, although criticisms made by the party, and sections of civil society, were considered.

He said the ANC's threat to initiate a statutory media appeals tribunal was part of the context of discussions on additions to the code.

However, the changes were ultimately for the sake of South African journalism.

"The decisions we took were simply because they were in the best interest of journalism, not because we wanted to appease any political party," Thloloe said.

The revisions were part of a regular process that took place every five years.

"We had to take the criticism[s] into account and ask if they are worthwhile or just wild political statements," Thloloe said.

Meanwhile, the Democratic Alliance (DA) echoed Thloloe's assertion that the new regulations would strengthen journalism in the country.

"The DA welcomes the new set of press regulations released earlier today.

On the whole, we believe that these new regulations will ultimately strengthen the independence of the media by improving the quality and credibility of journalism," said DA national spokesperson Mmusi Maimane in a statement.

The DA said that it in particular supported the addition of more staff - a director and public advocate - at the Press Council, the reconfirmation of the existing code of conduct and the speeding up of the finalisation of complaints.

"As a package, these new regulations will increase the general level of credibility of the press. They will make the PCSA’s processes more transparent and will strengthen public input into the system," Maimane said.

- SAPA

Read more on:    da  |  anc  |  sanef  |  mmusi maimane  |  joe thloloe  |  mondli makhanya  |  media
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
5 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
 

SA political parties go to church

Leaders of different political parties have attended a church service at the Tyrannus Apostolic Church in De Deur.

 
 

Latest elections multimedia

Why Jack Parow wants you to vote on 7 May
The ad the SABC doesn't want to air
Elections 2014 in one cartoon
This year's election posters
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Thursday Sir Lowry's Pass - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Old Sir Lowrys Pass Road
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Bezweni Road
  • Thursday Cape Town - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Buitengracht Street
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Waterkant Street
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as kalahari.com’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Nokia N9

The Nokia N9 has a beautiful one-piece, unibody design where...

From R2899.85

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

You may be good at organising events but they do take their toll on your energy levels. You may need some time out today just to...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.