The South African National Editors Forum urged media companies to come up with more creative ways of rescuing their ailing businesses rather than resorting to job cuts.
The statement comes after Tiso Blackstar Group [JSE:TBG] announced it would be resorting to section 189 measures recently. Tiso Blackstar has already disclosed that it will close down the Sunday World, just over a year after the same company shut down its daily paper, The Times.
Tiso Blackstar is not the only company to close shop at some of its publications.
The South African Broadcasting Corporation also mulled journalist retrenchments until the Department of Communications intervened.
Similarly, Mzwanele Manyi’s AfroTone Media Holdings also closed its doors last year, costing many jobs.
The Sanef statement said in some newsrooms, journalists were not being replaced, and this resulted in less capacity to cover any and all events that are in the public interest.
"These are hard times for the local media industry. Sanef is concerned that declining numbers of media institutions, publications and the shrinking numbers of journalists will lead to fewer reporting, opinions and debate in the country," the statement said.
The statement said the current economic difficulties meant advertising revenue was in decline and the bulk of digital advertising revenue left the country to head towards tech giants including Facebook and Google.
"We call on media owners to think creatively and responsibly about implementing new, sustainable business models, built on the integrity and trust our readers, viewers and listeners place in us to tell the country's stories without fear or favour," the statement said.