Mkhize calls for more media regulation
ANC treasurer-general Zweli Mkhize has called for a review of what he described as the media’s “peer-driven” system of regulation, saying it needs more independent adjudicators.
Addressing the annual general meeting of the SA National Editors’ Forum yesterday, Mkhize said the ANC was also perturbed by the oppositional stance of some sections of the media.
“We take serious offence when matters are taken before the ombudsman and he judges based on ticking boxes in line with your code. You have called, messaged and spoken to enough people, therefore you have followed the code, but you can follow the code and still get an untrue story. We need to look at the adequacy of peer-driven accountability mechanisms. Perhaps there can be space for outside commentary,” he said. The current system of regulation – known as independent coregulation – includes more members of the public in the press council than the media.
ANC secretarygeneral Gwede Mantashe was scheduled to meet with the editors, but could not attend due to other commitments.
Mkhize, tasked with presenting the views of the ruling party in relation to the media, reiterated the need for media freedom in a democracy, but pointed out that there was a trust deficit between the ANC and the media.
“Some sections of the media consciously choose to oppose the ANC and its alliance. What informs the general pessimism in media? Is it perhaps that you are feeding a certain constituency that reads the news?” he asked.
When asked by journalists if he was suggesting a form of sunshine journalism, Mkhize vehemently denied that this was the goal.
“The ANC is not cracking down on media. What we need is a forum where we can debate robustly, where we can agree and disagree.
“Media cannot start from the premise that every institution can be manipulated and that all of government is corrupt.”
Mkhize also broached the subject of the credibility of media reports, saying too much weight was being placed on the use of anonymous sources by journalists.
“We get very uptight about your anonymous sources. How can it be that official comments do not get as much representation as these sources who won’t be named?” he asked.
He also placed emphasis on the need for media to get on board with nationbuilding and to embrace initiatives like the National Development Plan with a “World Cup approach”.
“I understand the need for a healthy mistrust between the ANC and the media. We get the position that the media don’t want to be seen as too close or embedded in government ... How far do you want to focus on negative reporting when you also need to build your country?”