Mkhize calls for more media reg­u­la­tion

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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?”

Zweli Mkhize

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