CAPE TOWN, Feb 17- The South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) will put together a discussion document on the issue of journalists and membership of political parties and table the paper at the next Sanef council meeting in June.
Sanef held its 2014 quarterly council meeting in Cape Town on Saturday when the need to provide guidance in relation to matters of conflicts of interest was discussed.
The meeting agreed that editors, as the guardians of the highest standards of journalism in their newsrooms, must at all times ensure that journalists do not conduct themselves in a manner which could lead audiences to doubt their political independence.
There is a need to make newsrooms aware of potential conflict of interests that may arise from time to time, be they political or commercial, the council agreed.
The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SAB) Acting Chief Operations Officer, Hlaudi Motsoeneng, gave a briefing on the state of the public broadcaster and its future plans, saying it was time for the SABC to rejoin the South African National Editors Forum (Sanef).
The SABC broke ranks with the forum in 2007 in protest over its stance on former Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang and the publication of details from her medical records.
Motsoeneng, addressing Sanef members in Cape Town on Saturday, said the SABC could greatly influence public discourse by being part of the forum.
Sanef welcomed Motsoeneng’s commitment and looked forward to full participation by the SABC once the decision had been finalised.
Press Council of South Africa (PCSA) Director Joe Thloloe noted in his report to the meeting that the current complaints mechanism was now a year old and was able resolve complaints more efficiently. His office had seen a sharp rise in the number of complaints received with 529 complaints received in 2013 against the 285 received in 2012.
A satisfaction survey to gauge perceptions of the users of the system will be undertaken.
The Sanef Council resolved to create a Media Freedom Defence Fund to support the work of its Media Freedom Sub-Committee and fund legal challenges in defence of media freedom. Sanef also resolved to appeal to National Police Commissioner General Riah Phiyega for an urgent meeting to discuss measures to guard against the attack of journalists by the police and called on its members and all journalists to inform it immediately whenever such attacks take place.