DA to complain over media group

2011-12-07 22:40
Cape Town - The Democratic Alliance will lay an official complaint against Independent Newspapers with the press ombudsman over an ANC centenary celebration feature, it said on Wednesday.

"[On Tuesday] my office received a letter from Independent Newspapers inviting the DA to advertise in a special feature on the ANC’s centenary celebrations," party leader Helen Zille said on Wednesday.

The feature was to run in The Star, Pretoria News, Cape Argus, Daily News, Diamond Fields Advertiser, and Isolezwe on January 13.

"The letter, written on an Independent Newspapers letterhead alongside an ANC logo, is a glowing endorsement of the ANC."

It was ironic that Independent Newspapers would choose to run an advertising feature glorifying the ANC when the same party was attempting to shut down the free press, Zille said.

However, Independent News and Media SA editorial director Moegsien Williams said it was "wrong, misleading and mischievous for anyone to suggest that an advertising feature has, can or will influence our editorial content".

Editorial integrity

Advertising features were handled by the commercial section of Independent Newspapers.

"As a rule, there is a 'Chinese' wall between the commercial and editorial units of our company primarily to protect our editorial integrity."

Decisions regarding news content were taken by members of the editorial staff and ultimately the editors, whose letters of appointment had a clause which spelled out their independence and sole authority in determining editorial content and policy.

"We have and will always defend our editorial integrity against any undue commercial, political or any other interference or influence.

"We value our readers' interests above all else and are sensitive to their diverse views. This is the main reason why we will not promote political parties on our editorial pages," Williams said.

Independent Newspapers' news coverage was based on the principles of its own and the Press Council's code of ethics, which emphasised accuracy, fairness, and objectivity.

"The planned ANC centenary supplement is similar to the many supplements our commercial departments publish regularly to commemorate or mark events or anniversaries of corporates and other organisations.

‘One-sided endorsement’

"As a rule, they are clearly marked as 'advertorial'," Williams said.

Zille said this "one-sided endorsement by a newspaper of a political party to solicit prospective advertisers", as well as the planned supplement itself, appeared to be in violation of section 3.1 of the Press Code.

This section stated that the "press shall not allow commercial, political, personal, or other non-professional considerations to influence or slant reporting".

"Conflicts of interest must be avoided, as well as arrangements or practices that could lead audiences to doubt the press’s independence or professionalism," it stated.

Zille said she would lay an official complaint with the press ombudsman in terms of the Press Code, and would impress upon him the need to make a ruling before the special feature on the ANC centenary was due to appear in January.

"It is crucial that a signal is sent out to all media that the one-sided promotion of a political party is not okay.

"It violates the very principles of independence that all media should adhere to. If this is the way that the Independent Group is framing the ANC’s centenary, I shudder to think what the SABC is planning," she said.
Read more on:    da  |  helen zille  |  politics  |  media

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

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
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Financial advisors – Do you need one and should you get one?

The good, the bad, and everything else you need to know when considering hiring a financial advisor.


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


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.


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.