SA media 'doing a good job'
Neels Jackson, Beeld
Johannesburg – On the whole, the South African media is actually doing a good job, says press ombudsman Joe Thloloe.
Thloloe was speaking at a conference of the Evangelic Alliance about the ANC's proposed media tribunal.
Thloloe said if he had been swamped by complaints about the media on a daily basis, he would have thought the industry was going down. But in the year between August 2009 and July 2010, he had only received 134 complaints – while the industry produced millions of words on a daily basis.
This is like a drop in the ocean, and could not even change the colour of the sea, he said.
To a charge that newspapers sometimes made big blunders in prominent articles and then printed tiny corrections hidden deep in the newspaper, Thloloe said it didn’t happen if he ordered that a prominent correction was printed.
What did happen, was that newspapers often printed mistakes, which they corrected themselves, on the inside pages.
He pointed out, however, that a newspaper's credibility was of utmost importance. If people didn't believe a newspaper anymore, it would die. That was why editors put great emphasis on accuracy and disliked placing corrections so much.
He said the Sunday Times had even called on experts to reinforce their control systems after they had to print several corrections at one point.
Thloloe also rejected the perception that the news media had become self-righteous through a system of self-regulation.
He pointed out that only half of the members of the Press Council came from the media and that their appeal board was chaired by a judge.
Thloloe said there were moderate voices in the ANC on the matter, but that there were also prominent voices like those of youth leader Julius Malema, who announced that the media tribunal was a sure thing.