702 to 'engage' social media producer for 'dog vs baby' tweet

Cape Town - Primedia Broadcasting on Monday said it would "engage" with a social media producer responsible for a tweet comparing two black children with dogs, to determine what motivated the post which has caused uproar on Twitter.

CEO Omar Essack described the tweet as a "huge and grievous error" in an interview with host Xolani Gwala on 702 on Monday morning.

"We sometimes forget what we have been through as a nation. We forget how painful some of these experiences are, this whole idea of objectifying black people," he said.

"We know why this comparison with dogs is a problem. We know how dogs have sat in front of cars; people in the back. It's a huge and grievous error and all I can do is apologise on behalf of all of us that it happened and do everything in my power to work on ensuring that we get better at putting out the right stuff."

After the Walk the Talk walk on Sunday, Radio 702 tweeted four photos from their official Twitter account - two of black toddlers taking part in the walk and two of dogs on their leashes - with the words: "Aaaw! Dog vs baby… who's cuter? Go ahead and evoke those broody feelings…"

The tweet caused uproar, with social media users expressing their outrage at the children being compared to dogs.

The radio station on their website published an apology for the offensive tweet.

"You have every right to be angry and offended. We strive to uphold the highest standards in our communication with you. Our mission is to communicate in a manner that builds social cohesion and a sense of community. In this instance we failed," the statement reads.

"We offended South Africans and are sorry. This does not meet the standards that we expect from ourselves."

Gwala, who described the tweet as despicable and distasteful, said the apology issued by the company's management was unacceptable and made the matter worse.

Many Twitter users considered it racism, he told Essack, who responded that management would be meeting with those responsible to come to a conclusion.

Social media producers thought it "would be really good" to post on children, because they "are cute", and pets.

"What happened was a particular social media producer conflated the two, tried to put the two together and tried to be smart, but obviously not thinking about the implications," he said.

"Now management's job… is to go in, sit down with the person responsible and come to a view on where this comes form  - from ignorance and naivety or does this come from racism?"

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