5% of journalists know ethical code

2010-11-16 08:22

Stellenbosch - Only about five percent of journalists know the ethical code for journalists or have seen it, according to Johan Retief, deputy press ombudsman.

So even though the industry could improve, he still believes that self-regulation is the democratic answer for the South African media.

Retief on Monday gave a overview of the progress being made regarding the improvement of the self-regulation mechanism by the press ombud and the Press Council at the journalism department at Stellenbosch University.

This comes amid serious concerns that the government wants to gag the media with the proposed Protection of Information Act and the planned media appeals tribunal.

New press code

Retief expects a new press code to be announced by February at the earliest. This may well involve drastic changes, such as better protection for children in the printed media.

"I have no doubt that the ANC wants control over the media. Nevertheless we should thank the ANC, because if it hadn't given us a push, we probably wouldn't have paid attention to the matter."

He went on to say his own research showed that 86% of countries follow a system of self-regulation rather than independent regulation.

"In South Africa we have an interesting marriage between the two, since the Press Council consists of six representatives from the media industry and six from the public. The chairperson is also a former journalist.

"The chairperson of the appeals panel, however, is a judge appointed by the country's chief justice," he said.

According to Retief, the shortening of the complaints procedure is also one of the issues which are currently under consideration.


  • AJ - 2010-11-16 08:45

    That's like 4% more than politicians.

  • Fikile - 2010-11-16 09:15

    @AJ and 5% more than U. Anyway it does not surprise me, reporters and the media are like economist fat and lazy they can’t provoke thought or debate only controversy. About time we have a more responsible "independent" media and not controlled by US and Europe. They only echo the media of US and Europe and we know how west bias they are. And they a not free (self censorship) Term US for mass murder (family) “collateral damage” for resistance fighter “insurgent”. A resistance movement called terrorist organisation. And so on and so on.

      AJ - 2010-11-16 11:55

      Sorry Fikile, did I make a nasty joke about your political masters. Oh I didn't mean to hurt your feelings? Smile Fikile. Why you being so rude, I did not insult you, did I. Seriously can black people not take a joke aimed at politicians or accept any criticism of political leaders? Are you their slaves or something? God, its so pathetic. As for your comment, I stopped at 'U', as you started going a bit haywire there. Free your mind Fikile! You may like it?

      AJ - 2010-11-16 11:57

      Wait Fikile let me guess, most journalists (in your mind) can learn something about ethics from the political 'leaders' of this country right?

  • waynet59 - 2010-11-16 09:30

    They can try to muzzle the local press like the Nazi's but the international press and the likes of twitter etc will ensure that the government is held accountable for their actions.

  • zip reeper - 2010-11-16 11:14

    'self-regulation' makes no sense. there are defamation and damages laws that can be used by aggrieved parties. as a journalist, i don't recognize the 'authority' of these press council characters who have apportioned to themselves the right to make 'rulings' over me or my work. where do they come from and how do we know they are not raving loons? any editor who supports this 'council' should also be viewed with grave suspicion. and the fact that the council is prepared to communiciate and collude with a corrupt government has finally discredited it.

      Clare - 2010-11-16 12:49


  • postscript6167 - 2010-11-16 11:34

    @Fikile do you mean independent in the way that ICASA is independent? Or the SABC? Or the Zimbabwe Herald? And please, do tell us which SA media is controlled by US/Europe.

  • Hippocrates - 2010-11-16 12:20

    Whilst I dont expect politicians to know about ethics I would expect journalists to be clued trying to justify the fact that 5% of journalists are up to scratch and that self regulation is the best way to put the other 95% back in line is ridiculous!!!!!!

  • randrdunbar - 2010-11-16 15:23

    Self-regulation depends on who the 'Self' refers to?As a check and balance for the Media industry itself 'self regulation' seems to be a good idea.Is it not in the best interests of media houses to make the ethical code available to journalists?What bothers me is state interference ,albeit indirect of nature.Is our legal system so inadequate to deal with media law issues?

  • Sizwe - 2010-11-16 16:30

    The fact of the matter is that checks and balances need to be in place as humans are fallible! I do not believe journalists(read the press) are beyond reproach, thus I believe they need external-regulation like any institution that can exert influence over the populace be it overtly or covertly.

  • Jude Mathurine - 2010-11-16 17:59

    Before anyone here mouths off - note the question that is NOT being answered. How Retief arrived at the five percent figure in the first place. Was a representative sample of South African journalists across all sectors tested for knowledge of the code? How was the test conducted? And if conducted, on whom (public/state media, community media, commercial media)? This fact is about to spin around the Internet as fast as the "South Africa is the second fattest country in the world" lie which was spun by pharmaceutical company Glaxo SmithKline based on a survey of 500 South Africans in our metros (note survey - no indication of whether a BMI was actually used). The story is incomplete and not worthy of comment until lazy journos get off their butt to fill in the gaps.

  • nn.prv - 2011-10-10 13:27

    Imagine how much crap is written out there !

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