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Parliament to reconsider media policy

2011-11-03 09:48

Johannesburg - A parliamentary policy which dictates that journalists request permission before interviewing support staff from political parties will be re-considered.

The "Policy on Media Relations Management" would be reconsidered on the basis of proposals submitted by media bodies in the pending mid-term review by Parliament and the SA National Editors Forum (Sanef) said in a joint statement on Wednesday.

Sanef earlier on Wednesday met the Speaker of Parliament, Max Sisulu, chairperson of the national council of provinces, Mninwa Mahlangu, and the secretary to Parliament, Zingile Dingani.

This followed an incident in which Parliament sent a letter to the manager of Independent Newspapers on an article that journalist Deon de Lange wrote, using information from an unnamed parliamentary official.

The article dealt with the protection of state information bill.

Previously unknown policy

Parliament asked why De Lange's parliamentary accreditation should not be withdrawn. Follow ups then yielded a copy of the "Policy on Media Relations Management".

Neither Sanef, the Cape Town Press Club, nor the Press Gallery Association (PGA) had known about the policy until the action against De Lange.

The policy was signed by Parliament's presiding officers in 2009, and applied only to journalists seeking information on the business of parliament, and information from parliamentary officers who were civil servants.

"The fruitful engagement was aimed at ensuring that both Parliament and the media are able to operate optimally in pursuit of their respective roles and duties in the service of citizens and our democracy," the statement by Sanef and Parliament read.

More meetings

It was further greed that the process initiated in the letter sent to Independent Newspapers regarding De Lange's accreditation, would not be pursued.

Both parties said this was "in the interests of further engagement taking place in a spirit of co-operation and mutual trust".

A meeting requested by Parliament with the PGA and other journalists working within Parliament would go ahead on a date to be agreed upon, they said.

An initial meeting scheduled for earlier last month was cancelled after Sanef requested an urgent meeting to discuss the matter.