Sowetan gets tongue-lashing from ombud

2012-07-24 19:19

Johannesburg - A Sowetan opinion piece which misquoted Blade Nzimande calling several political analysts "dogs" is irresponsible journalism on an "ugly scale", the deputy press ombudsman has found.

"This is the most unethical... comment that I can recall after having dealt with approximately 500 complaints in this office," Johan Retief wrote in a ruling issued on Tuesday.

The opinion piece, published on 11 June, was written by Prince Mashele, who teaches politics at the University of Pretoria.

He stated that SA Communist Party general secretary Nzimande, while speaking to vice-chancellors at the University of Johannesburg in June, had described political analysts as "dogs" and had called for violence against them.

This was in fact unfounded, said Retief.

"Let me repeat: I cannot recall ever having seen irresponsible journalism on such an ugly scale as this. It does not get any worse," he said.

While it was agreed Nzimande had said some political analysts were "like a pack of wild dogs", Retief said there was an important distinction.

"It is indeed one thing to say that someone acts [verb] like a dog, and quite another to state that s/he is a dog [noun]," Retief wrote in his ruling.

Sowetan editor Mpumelelo Mkhabela confirmed receiving the ruling Tuesday afternoon, but had not yet read it.

"I still need to do that to decide whether we will appeal that or not," Mkhabela said.

  • Squeegee - 2012-07-24 20:01

    No never. Journalists always report accurately, especially on News24. They don't ever slant stories to fit their own agendas. Hahaha. The Sowetan could not possibly have done this. hahaha.

      paul.nefdt - 2012-07-24 22:24

      And then we wonder why the current government wants to gag the press?? I for one don't want the press gagged but foolish actions like this only give government more cannon fodder...

      martin.britchford.5 - 2012-07-25 14:51

      it seems the editor of comments has not read the comments policy and deletes comments willy nilly now

  • sikhumbuzo.qwabe - 2012-07-24 20:33

    Journalists sometimes write to please their Editors forgetting the facts. Also in this case the proof reader need to be blamed.

  • Bob.Cee123 - 2012-07-24 20:49

    That was quick censorship. You know what I mean. My comment was quite within the boundaries set in Johan Retief's ruling.

  • @Thabo.Shaku - 2012-07-24 23:54

    Should this rebuke be directed at Sowetan (Newspaper) or Mashele (Political Analyst)?

  • ethan.pugh.92 - 2012-07-25 08:44

    In the name of free speech, anybody should be allowed to write and/or say whatever he likes. It helps if it were truthful, and not defaming, but after saying it, he/she should also be held accountable, and take full responsibility for consequences.

  • sam.nkowane - 2012-07-25 09:16

    Well, it is ironic that we get to know of the folly of journalists from none other than journalists themselves. Hence, whether or not one journalist slants a story, or not, a better picture can always be obtained by reading from various sources. Free press is strengthened by the number of media houses available to the people - which SA is definitely making good strides in. Bear in mind that everytime we read a story attacking poor journalism, we are in fact still relying on journalism to receive that report. Onward free press!

  • sifiso.msimango - 2012-07-25 11:01

    ha ha ha, freedom of speech, whether journos are dogs or act like docs, makes no difference, the fact is blade is exercizing his freedom of speech right like city prez on jz painting saga

      JManAtheoi - 2012-07-25 11:45

      .."is exercizing his freedom of speech..." you mean the same freedom of speech they want to gag?

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