Media 'denies expression to others'

2012-01-30 22:45

Johannesburg - The media wants the right to express for itself, but denies others the same right, the Press Freedom Commission heard on Monday.

"They have not been giving freedom of expression to the man in the street, the public," said Ebrahim Hassaim, an individual making a submission to the press freedom public hearings in Johannesburg.

He said he was a prolific writer of letters to the press, but found words were ascribed to him, or substantial edits made to his letters without a footnote indicating this.

"Now this is absolute fraud," he said.

He had tried to complain and had gone as far as the Press Council, but was given short shrift.

"As much as they would not like to hear this, there are journalists who don't care about the interests of the public," he said.

If they could alter his letters, he was not surprised that the government felt it had a reason for a complaint against the media.

"The media should not be giving anybody reason to complain. My submission is that there should be independent regulation," he said.

  • mystae - 2012-01-30 23:26

    If Mr. Hassaim can't understand the editorial process then he shouldn't be writing to the press with the aim to get published. Editors, sub-editors and journalists have an obligation to ensure that information is well structured and presented to the public with some clarity. Let's at least try to maintain some journalistic standard in this country...

      Noxville - 2012-01-31 00:22

      That's a perfectly legitimate claim, but remember that in the editorial process the job of the media is to accurately and clearly convey a view or message. If they alter the *meaning* of the message/view, then they are asserting that a person said something that they did not. This is unacceptable. I'm quite sure 'Mr. Hassaim' would not be quite so upset if they merely changed the formatting and style of his letters?

      Godfrey - 2012-01-31 05:40

      The Hussain fellow sounds like a perpetual whinger and I have no doubt that a lot of his letter are puerile and not worth publishing. Just because you write a letter to the editor does no mean he is under any obligation to print it. If he wants his name in lights then Hussain should write to another paper, start a paper of his own or create a blog.

      werner.smidt - 2012-01-31 06:57

      @Noxville, the problem is that he claim his letters were altered in such a way that the editors omitted essential information. He doesn't even consider the possibility that his writing is crap nor provide links to his "articles". Being a prolific writer does not make you a good writer. The fact that you get user's letters/opinions/comments published on here does provide the 'man on the street' with the power to publish. Sure, some comments/articles are rejected, but usually it goes against the code of conduct of News24. Perhaps he's a "bloody agent" ;-)

      Guy - 2012-01-31 08:08

      @Noxville The editors job is to make sure that newspapers get sold. As much as we would like to have a fully independent and unbiased media, it ain't ever going to happen anywhere in the world. The best thing to do is to send the same letter to several papers and hopefully the "average" of the facts will come out.

      werner.smidt - 2012-01-31 10:25

      I still can't find a single letter/article written by him.

  • John - 2012-01-31 00:11

    I have been writing letters for a long time; Some have been published. When my opinion was similar to the gov of the day's general new direction, I got a lot of posts placed. Not as much these days; my opinion is different from the government, and different from the official oposittion; just not placed as much. But the papers all say: letters can be edited, made short, etc. The man does not have a complaint. He must start his own newspaper. Than he can publish the opinions of those who do not like his editorials.

  • wesleywt - 2012-01-31 05:10

    A guy that makes hasty and sweeping generalisations like this clearly needed his ramblings edited.

  • Sarah - 2012-01-31 05:44

    I partly agree on what Mr Hassim had to say simply because I experienced a similar incident where my articles on community events could not be published by a 'local free publication community newspaper'..I was told that it's "against their new policy/regulations"..hence I'm roaming around news24 untill my studies are finish..

  • Sarah - 2012-01-31 05:45

    oh, and i had my ducks in a row...

  • Tony - 2012-01-31 06:37

    Well - I write a bit too and have had no issue with the press. If - hypothetically - a particular newspapaper mis represented me, well freedom of choice dictates that I dont deal with them again. If - on the other hand the newspaper approached me and mis-represented me - well then there the Press Ombudsman. Thats how I see it.....

  • Antoinette Jordaan - 2012-01-31 07:16

    I think I'd first like to see the evidence of how much his letters was a before and after version. Then I can add my view....otherwise it's all conjecture....

  • Craig - 2012-01-31 08:15

    In an issue as sensitive and important as press freedom, I would think it incumbent upon News24, or rather SAPA, as they ran this story originally, to find out who this Ebrahim Hassaim actually is. No "individual" just turns up at public hearings unless he is strongly motivated, or unless he has an agenda. I would speculate that Mr Hassaim is toeing somebody's else's line here. His argument is naive and flimsy to the extreme, and while everyone is entitled their say at a public hearing, most of us are too busy with our daily lives and jobs to spare the time to fight such crusades. Unless we have an agenda or belong to a certain political party, that is.

  • ludlowdj - 2012-01-31 09:14

    Agree non governmental over watch is required. The government however is to corrupt to be allowed any say in the media at all.

  • Jaco - 2012-01-31 15:05

    There is no journalistic standard in this country. Every journalist writes whatever he/she feels like without a thought of the correctness or repercussions it might have. Looking at the spelling and grammar on some of the printed media it's clear that editors aren't in a position to edit anything except their shopping lists. It's about time that they get regulated.

  • Sarah - 2012-01-31 18:19

    The only way we will know the truth, is if we go and read the 'original article', which Mr. Hassim claims to have send to the newspaper and compare it with the 'edited version'...

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