Respect the media, editors tell ANC

Johannesburg - The SA National Editors Forum (Sanef) has urged the ANC to respect the media's right to be critical, as the ruling party released a document outlining a "battle plan" to boost its image.

The African National Congress said in a discussion document on communication that it was under attack from the media.

This is according to the party’s National General Council (NGC) 2015 documents, which provide status updates on party resolutions made at its 2012 Mangaung conference.

But Sanef has urged caution.

Chairperson Mpumelelo Mkhabela said his organisation is "humbled by the fact that the governing party is leading a discussion among its members on media issues.

"Whatever the direction or conclusion of the discussion, it should be within the parameters set by the constitution," Mkhabela said in a statement to News24.

"We hope there will be due regard to the important role the media plays in society more broadly and in enhancing the quality of our democracy.

"The quality of our democracy is measured not only in holding regular, clean elections and socio economic empowerment (all of which are exceedingly important), but also on how the state respects the media's right to remain critical without worrying about any threats," Mkhabela said.

ANC members will meet in Midrand in October to discuss mid-term progress on aspects ranging from social transformation to international relations.

One set of NGC documents titled 'Communications and Battle of Ideas' particularly criticises the media.

"There is a ganging up on the ANC and the movement's representatives by the media analysts, media commentators, the ultra-left and ultra-right forces," reads the document.

"All the media outlets including unfortunately the public broadcasting outlets are dominated by the persistent attack on the NDR (National Democratic Revolution)," the document notes.

The party also slams what it calls "gutter journalism" and says media studies graduates have been exposed to a status quo that promotes "sensational reporting and lacks a great deal regarding development communication with little training in terms of government communication".

The ANC , subsequently, says it plans drawing up a "battle plan" to "include engagements with strategic allies and other progressive forces that can influence media and help drive the thrust of the national democratic revolution in the media platform spaces".

"The battle plan should help reignite the national dialogue and focus it on the radical transformation trajectory," says the ANC.

"The battle plan must encompass all platforms and provide creative and innovative ways of bringing about the mass participation of ANC cadres beyond the official spokespersons of the movement in order to set the agenda," the ANC adds.

The party, in the documents, also says it needs to ensure it follows up on 'right to reply' to "baseless attacks".

"It is now usual to hear one sided discussions, attacking the ANC, in print, radio and television platforms without ANC cadres and spokespersons participating," says the ANC.

Furthermore, the ANC wants to "package" its success stories, tap community television stations, identify journalism schools of choice and revive the ANC News Service as part of its action plan.

But the party says it is still committed to a free media.

"The ANC remains committed to a media climate that is free from vested political and commercial interests," says the party.

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