WHILE the outrage expressed by certain journalists of a paler complexion, at Friday’s re-launch of the Forum of Black Journalists (FBJ) is understandable (some white journalists were denied access while others were barred entry) – this blogger can only shake his head and remark at the hypocrisy of all concerned.
SANEF launched into a full scale uproar at Friday’s event, with a reaction which some called “rather stage-managed”, and yet the corporate editors forum continues to turn a blind eye to similar situations involving journalists in the lower ranks employed by its own affiliates.
SANEF have yet to comment on several allegations of discrimination against Media24 — a labour case has been lodged before the Labour Court in which it is alleged the company maintained and continues to maintain a system of racial profiling and racial segregation, particularly in one of its newspaper divisions, amongst other things.
As a struggle journalist who experienced the system of racial segregation first-hand, and having fought against racial prejudice, one would have thought the SANEF at least possessed the temerity to issue a letter of support. Not even a statement from the Freedom of Expression Institute has managed to galvanise these corporate sycophants into action.
Yes, the FBJ are being hypocritical in railing against the legacy of the apartheid system while at the same time, denying others the same right. No less than a show of solidarity amongst brothers will dispel this concern — If the FBJ is a product of the system, then surely it should not be prolonging the system any longer than is absolutely necessary?
Any structure based upon race is an obvious anomaly in the new South Africa, but is such a thing as the FBJ an incongruency out of step with the times? As many still argue, such structures are needed to address unique issues and special concerns raised by black journalists. To argue otherwise is to ignore the conditions under which black journalists have had to work, so the FBJ has my support.
SANEF on the other hand, are clearly nothing more than a gang of reactionary nincompoops driving around in expensive limo’s and as Polokwane has shown, increasingly out of step with the masses. SANEF has also been quick to criticize structures such as the FBJ — those which it perceives as a threat to the colonial legacy of baaskap under the current neo-conservative agenda while dragging heals on others.
What is good for the goose is surely good for the gander? Unfortunately SANEF does only what is necessary when it is convenient to do so and when its actions are unlikely to eat into the profits of its affiliates. Sheer hypocrisy of the highest order, amongst those who should know better.
Headline today: Media24 in hot water. Apparently staff have been misrepresenting circulation figures to advertisers, resulting in a furore over billing. A routine audit of a number of Media24 magazine titles, according to IOL has revealed “certain discrepancies”, the Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC) was reported as saying on Friday.
The ABC had apparently asked Media24 to restate the circulation data of some titles, according to ABC general manager Charles Beiles, raising the question of what else is the African Media Giant hiding? Well, this blog can reveal that there is a lot more going on at Media24. Take the group’s attempts to squash my own case of discrimination (in which I have complained about racism and antiSemitism after being fired for writing a piece about a black jazz musician for a community newspaper published “in a coloured target market” nogal), or the failure to report the pathetic gagging and “urgent interdict” brought against my person, for supposedly publishing “false or misleading statements” of the kind the group is now having to restate.
Can one really believe the kind of brainwashing going on nowadays? Especially when corporate media start looking a lot like just another sports and entertainment utility and less like the daily press. Well, you heard it from me, so for what its worth, check out Zoopy, an interesting new video utility that allows one to upload the truth without fear of censorship, and keep on blogging.
That’s all for now, I’m off for a surf.
CAPE TOWN: The Independent Group has refused a request for information relating to its liability as a corporate entity and ongoing participation as a media company in civil litigation. The request filed on behalf of the Alternative Media Forum (AMF) — an ad hoc grouping of media activists and civil society organisations — was submitted to Independent’s Chief Executive Officer, Tony Howard, but access to the information was refused.
In a legal brief, Independent News & Media (INM) has supplied a number of reasons why it believes it should not grant access to the information requested and why it believes the information is protected from public disclosure. None of the reasons supplied address the key issues raised by the AMF relating to the group’s responsibility as a media organisation to keep the public informed.
According to INM’s lawyers, “the right to be informed is not a right”, and consequently one may draw the conclusion that the group is neither serious about press freedom, nor bound by the Press Code of Professional Practice as it relates to corporate affairs. According to a copy of the Press Code of Professional Practice supplied by the Press Ombudsman, to which Independent is a signatory, “the basic principle to be upheld is that the freedom of the press is indivisible from and subject to the same rights and duties as that of the individual and rests on the public¢s fundamental right to be informed and freely to receive and to disseminate opinions.”
The AMF intends appealing against INMs decision, before bringing an action before a court of law, that could force full public disclosure. The response by the Independent Group, calls into question the sincerity of its own executives in furthering the interests of the media as a whole. The contradiction between the way the group views its business and the demand for accountability and press freedom should also be noted. The interests of media bosses, like so many claims of this nature, are being seen as paramount to the interests of a free press, in a plutocracy that sees small publishers as a threat to their own survival. Furthermore, INM, via its various corporate holdings, continue to operate as if it has sole proprietorship over the daily press in South Africa. The group has now flouted both common sense and decency, by not disclosing this information, and is evidently hiding behind a veil of corporate secrecy.
In effect, the refusal to give details of civil litigation to which it has has been a party, simply because INM is a “private company”, renders litigation in lower courts impotent and without any remedial value. The group recently refused to supply details of a court case which it lost in 2003, while using the information to smear the convener of the Alternative Media Forum, David Robert Lewis.
The Alternative Media Forum is now claiming in papers that will be filed for review, that although INM is a private body that enjoys certain commercial rights, as a press group these rights have been superceded by the public’s “right to know”, furthermore, media interests gained via the constitutional guarantees on free speech, transparency, openness and access to information should be open to public scrutiny. It is the function of a public role which has added emphasis to these rights, and the public has a right to be informed of matters relating to freedom of the press.
There will be a meeting to discuss this response and other events surrounding press freedom and the media at a future date and venue to be announced.
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ALTERNATIVE MEDIA FORUM
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