Cape Times must apologise to former editor - press ombudsman

2016-08-01 19:27
Former Cape Times editor Alide Dasnois (Cape Times via Twitter)

Former Cape Times editor Alide Dasnois (Cape Times via Twitter)

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Johannesburg – The Cape Times has been ordered to issue a front page apology to the newspaper’s former editor, Alide Dasnois, over a newspaper headline published on May 10, 2016, the Press Ombudsman ruled on Monday.

The decision comes after the Cape Times ran a front page headline which read, "Independent vindicated as Dasnois settlement reached", while the article running to Page 3 was headlined Failed to have Madiba’s death on front page. Sister publications of the Cape Times also ran with the story.

Dasnois complained that the newspaper’s coverage of the outcome of her case against Independent Newspapers following her dismissal, as heard in the Labour Court, was unfair.

She was dismissed as editor in 2014 after the death of former President Nelson Mandela.

Independent chairperson Iqbal Surve cited her failure to lead with Mandela's death on the front page as one of the reasons for her dismissal. At the time, the newspaper had, instead, carried the news of Mandela's death in a special wraparound.

Independent Newspapers and Dasnois eventually settled out of court, where the media house withdrew all allegations of racism against her as part of the settlement.

The newspaper then ran the article that it had been "vindicated" the following day.

According to Dasnois she was publicly and falsely labelled as a racist and as an immoral person who at the time of Mandela’s death had disrespected him and those who mourned him.

She took the matter to the press ombudsman.

The press ombudsman ruled that the headline the Cape Times used in its report on the settlement was "problematic" and that it was in breach of the Code of Ethics and Conduct. The article included Surve's take on the matter.

The press ombudsman found that the while the story mentioned the newspaper's "'vindication' as opinion...the headline presented it as fact".

“This means that 'many readers would reasonably' have concluded that Independent Newspapers has in fact 'won' the case and that Dasnois has 'lost' it,” the press ombudsman ruled.

Other Independent titles, The Diamond Fields Advertiser and The Star were also directed to apologise to Dasnois “for omitting to state that the agreement entailed that Independent Newspapers withdrew all allegations of racism against Dasnois, that she never intended to show disrespect for Mandela, and that her editorial independence was not in dispute...”

Read more on:    independent newspapers  |  alide dasnois  |  iqbal surve  |  cape town  |  media

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