Govt PR, journo ties need work - study

2012-02-20 20:01

Johannesburg - The working relationship between journalists and government spokespeople needs attention, the National Press Club (NPC) said on Monday.

In a survey commissioned by the club, 29% of government spokespeople approached said the two camps had mutual trust for each other's roles, compared with only 14% of journalists.

Nine percent of government spokespeople said there was little or no trust, compared with 21% of reporters, the NPC said.

Ethical conduct had an important influence on spokespeople's relationship with journalists, said the 22 spokespeople surveyed.

"With some it is better, but not with others mainly due to some unreasonable deadlines or by using dishonest means to gain information," read one of the sample quotes in the survey.

"Sometimes, despite efforts to explain programmes and policies, some journalists will still distort the story," read another.

Journalists cited follow-up time, availability and the timing of queries answered as their primary problems.

"E-mails and telephones are hardly ever answered, promises of forthcoming comment never transpires," was one journalist's comment provided.

NPC general manager Ben Rootman said research was needed to find ways of helping each other. "How do we move forward, how do we remove this?"

The NPC's executive committee would meet later this week to discuss a response to the findings.

  • maseratifittipaldi - 2012-02-20 21:12

    "How do we move forward, how do we remove this?" Easy. Pass legislation: the "Dissemination of Public Information Bill" which puts the media in its proper place-the eyes and ears of the People of S.A. The media should be present to report on any gathering of public officials. Government officials must be compelled to respond to media queries and questions. "Not available for comment" or "refused/declined to comment" should be criminal offences. Government officials should be SUMMONED by the media-not merely requested. For example : A radio station should have the power to summon a minister to explain him/herself on air. Too many times an official just wiggles out of responsibility.

  • Sharon - 2012-02-20 22:13

    The main problem here is the the PR people lie to the journalists! And the horrible, bad, nasty journalists expose them...

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