'Pen mightier than the sword' as journalists plan pickets outside SABC

SABC building in Cape Town. (Duncan Alfreds, Fin24)
SABC building in Cape Town. (Duncan Alfreds, Fin24)

Cape Town – Journalists are set to picket outside the SABC’s offices in Johannesburg and Cape Town on Friday in solidarity with the public broadcaster's staff.

A message of the intended action was widely circulated by journalists and news editors on social media, email and Whatsapp. It was not clear who the organiser was.

It reads: “So here’s the deal: on Friday journos from all over will gather outside SABC Auckland Park dressed in black with placards that read ‘#journalistrights’ from 8am. SABC staffers, with placards that read ‘#notinmyname’, will join them and they’ll proceed to Constitution Hill.”

“This is not about us or our respective media houses, but a direct assault on our profession and press freedom.”

Journalists in Cape Town were asked to picket at the SABC’s Sea Point office from 08:00.

The public broadcaster has recently come into the spotlight for a number of editorial decisions.

SABC COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng has been criticised for his decision last month to no longer air footage of the destruction of property during protests. Three SABC journalists were suspended last week for raising questions about a decision not to cover the Right2Know campaign’s protest outside their offices.

Agenda

On Tuesday, Motsoeneng said he wondered whether privately-owned media had an agenda against the public broadcaster.

He did not believe the SABC was censoring content and it reported the news as it was.

"There are no problems within the organisation," he said.

Exasperated, he said he did not even know what censorship was.

“What is this censorship thing? It is English so I don't know it. There is no censorship here,” he declared.

Acting group CEO Jimi Matthews resigned from the broadcaster on Monday. He said the SABC’s “corrosive atmosphere” had negatively affected his moral judgement, and made him complicit in decisions he was not proud of.


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