SANEF meeting with eNCA management
6 March 2021
The South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF) delegation led by the chairman Sibusiso Ngalwa met with the eNCA including managing editor John Bailey and managing director Norman Munzhelele, on Thursday, 4 March 2021 following the allegations of racism at the broadcaster.
The meeting was cordial but frank, reflecting on the events of the past week and it also provided a moment of reflection for both parties.
ENCA management informed SANEF that they are holding a series of meetings with various organisations, including the South African Council of Churches, #NOTINMYNAME and political parties, as a way of meaningfully engaging society on the recent events.
As ENCA is going through this process, they should be given the space to do so.
The broadcaster has also committed to making an announcement following the consultation process.
During the meeting, SANEF committed to be more responsive and to reach out to ENCA in future when challenges arise. They also committed to work much closer with SANEF and become involved in its activities.
SANEF condemns the threats to the life of reporter Lindsay Dentlinger following the publication of the video montage, selected from some of her work in parliament.
The abuse, which includes rape threats, have mostly been on online platforms and we believe that the targeted abuse is uncalled for.
The abuse of journalists, particularly women journalists, is rife on social media platforms. But we have seen the same kind of abuse at political events, rallies and protests marches where women journalists have been pushed, sexually harassed and subjected to verbal abuse.
South Africans have a right to call out journalists when they err. But this should not degenerate into cyberbullying and misogyny as currently faced by Dentlinger. For media freedom to be upheld and protected, journalists cannot be attacked without facts or the full story by members of the public.
SANEF reiterates the responsibility of all media houses to be perceptive of public criticism and perceptions as part of rebuilding public trust in the profession.
We believe the media has a duty to contribute to healing the nation from our violent past that legislated racism.
Equally, we all have a responsibility to fight against abuse and deliberate disinformation targeted at the media industry, to tarnish its image.
We have also seen genuine concern from stakeholders, but also opportunistic formations have jumped onto the bandwagon – seeking to capitalise on the ENCA incident to further malign the image of the media in South Africa.
It also brought to the surface existing tensions within the media industry. That is why, as the media, we have to use this period as an opportunity to pause and rethink our approach to diversity and transformation. It is an issue that we have not dealt with sufficiently and it has come up consistently in the State of the Newsroom research into South African newsrooms and was also reflected during our independent Ethics and Credibility report.
We also encourage all media houses to ensure that their newsrooms undergo diversity training and racial literacy training as our history makes it necessary.
We are currently organising a Media Ethics and Credibility conference which will include panel discussions on race and racism in the media as well as diversity in the newsrooms.
Issued by Mahlatse Mahlase, Secretary General, SANEF, 6 March 2021