We do not choose Nakasa winners - Sanef

2014-07-17 18:11

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Johannesburg - The SA National Editors' Forum (Sanef) on Thursday said it does not choose the winners of the Nat Nakasa award for courageous journalism, recently won by Alide Dasnois.

"Columns and news articles that suggest the awarding of the Nat Nakasa award is a decision of Sanef are inaccurate," Sanef chair Mpumelelo Mkhabela said in a statement.

Dasnois was dismissed as Cape Times’ editor after a disciplinary hearing in May. She was taken to task for deciding, in December, to run with a front-page story about the Sekunjalo consortium, instead of former president Nelson Mandela's death.

"The truth is that winners of this award are chosen by an independent panel of three judges upon receipt of nominations," Mkhabela said.

"That the award is presented at a Sanef dinner does not mean Sanef makes any contribution in the selection process."

The judges did not consult Print and Digital Media SA, the Nieman Society of Southern Africa, or Sanef before selecting a winner, he said.

Mkhabela said Dasnois was "unanimously chosen" by a panel that consisted of veteran journalist Joe Thloloe, senior lecturer in journalism Simphiwe Sesanti, and retired newspaper editor Peter Sullivan.

The statement followed a column on Wednesday by an executive editor at the Pretoria News, Fikile Ntsikelelo-Moya, titled "What is an act of courage?"

In it he questioned Sanef selecting Dasnois for the award.

‘Risked its integrity’

Moya wrote Sanef "risked its integrity" by deciding Dasnois was a worthy recipient of the award.

"If Sanef thought the Sekunjalo story was such a remarkable act of courage, why not also honour those who wrote it. Like Dasnois, they too would have shown courage to write unflatteringly about their employer," he wrote.

News of Mandela's death on 5 December was on a wrap-around for the following day's issue of the Cape Times. Independent Newspapers, which owns the Cape Times, has said that the wrap-around did not carry the same status as the newspaper's front page.

The Open Democracy Advice Centre has said Dasnois was fired because she ran a story about a public protector report on a fisheries tender linked to a Sekunjalo Consortium, the controlling shareholder in Independent Newspapers.

Mandela died at home in Houghton, Johannesburg, aged 95, on 5 December.

There have been editorial changes and resignations by senior staff at Independent Newspapers since Iqbal Surve's Sekunjalo-led consortium bought the company last year.

Surve has denied that Dasnois's dismissal was due to the fisheries tender story.

Surve reportedly walked out at the Nat Nakasa awards ceremony two weeks ago after Dasnois received the award for courageous journalism.

Dasnois said she would approach the Labour Court following her dismissal.

Read more on:    sanef  |  independent newspapers  |  cape town  |  media

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