#Journalistsrights: The public have a right to be informed, say protesters

2016-07-01 13:18
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SA journalists protest for media freedom

Journalists across the country picket in solidarity with SABC staff. View gallery here.

Cape Town - The public have a right to be informed about what is going on, especially in the weeks before casting their vote in local elections, a number of protesters said outside the SABC in Cape Town on Friday.

"Imagine if we'd turned away the cameras in the 80s?" said Cape Argus editor Gasant Abarder, who had been handing out placards.

"We can't do that now. We are six weeks away from elections."

He said the picket, led by around 100 journalists, editors and members of the public, was about defending democracy.

Motorists driving past the SABC office hooted in support for the crowd as they chanted "Hlaudi must go!"

Similar protests were taking place in Johannesburg and Durban.

Editors part of protest

Dressed mostly in black, Cape Town protesters held up posters stating "Not in our name", a comment on recent editorial developments at the public broadcaster.

Also in attendance was Times Media digital editor Andrew Trench and News24 editor Adriaan Basson, who chaired the media freedom sub-committee of the SA National Editors' Forum.

Basson said he supported the rights of SABC journalists to make independent decisions without interference completely.

"People need to be informed when they make decisions about who to vote for… We cannot censor video footage, we cannot censor people protesting," he said.

"We cannot have the public broadcaster, a manager in there, being so powerful that he can tell editors which stories not to cover."

SABC journalist Lukhanyo Calata, who spoke out against his employer earlier in the week, stood in the rain and wind with his son.

'Mirrors of society'

He said he was happy that other people within the SABC had also taken a stance.

"I will face the consequences because I am sure there will be consequences; every action has a reaction."

Labour columnist Terry Bell said the atmosphere at the public broadcaster had been toxic for some time.

He recalled when certain people were blacklisted and not invited onto shows to comment.

"It's not just journalists who should be protesting or Right2Know. This concerns every single member of the public who wants to have fair, open and honest reportage of what is going on in the country," he said.

"After all, we are not leading things; we are merely mirrors of what is happening in society."

SA Communist Party spokesperson for the Western Cape, Masonwabe Sokoyi, said they were planning to return to the SABC next week for a national picket.

"We believe the SABC is not meant to publish only good news or bad news but it must cover all the news," he said.

Read more on:    sanef  |  sabc  |  cape town  |  media freedom  |  media

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