INDABA Newsletter | September 2011

Networking forum

Thank you to the National Research Foundation for hosting the press club’s networking forum at the end of September. It was a most informative and enjoyable evening! And let’s hold thumbs that South Africa gets the Square Kilometre Array (SKA)!

This month’s networking forum will be hosted by the North-West University.

When: Thursday, 27 October 2011
Time: 18:00 for 18:30
Where: CSIR International Convention Centre, Meiring Naud� Road, Brummeria, Pretoria

We look forward to seeing you there! Also hear more about the 2012 National Press Club/North-West University Journalist of the Year competition.

Dr Albert van Jaarsveld, President and CEO of the National Research Foundation addressed press club members at the networking forum in September.

Parliament should not gag the media � National Press Club

The National Press Club has added its voice to this week’s widespread reaction to parliament’s apparent attempt to gag the media.

This follows a letter to Independent Group editors in which Zingile Dingani, the secretary to parliament, asks why he should not withdraw reporter Deon de Lange’s accreditation as a member of the parliamentary press gallery.

According to Dingani, de Lange had broken a ‘media protocol’ by recently quoting an unnamed ANC parliamentary official about the party’s decision to continue to consider the Protection of State Information Bill in a closed committee.

In addition, ANC chief whip Mathole Motshekga has reportedly threatened to find de Lange’s source and ordered an investigation into the matter.

Press club chairman Yusuf Abramjee says it is ironic that this apparent attempt to prevent the media from doing its job in an environment that supposedly promotes freedom of speech, relates back directly to the so-called Secrecy Bill.

“We have and will continue to be outspoken about any attempt to silence the media, or the media’s right to obtain information that is in public interest, on or off the record.

“It is clear that there is a lack of understanding of how the media works and what media freedom entails.

“Under no circumstances will the National Press Club and the media fraternity allow such blatant interference with the work of the media. It is undemocratic and unconstitutional. Some are also seeing this as an ‘intimidation tactic’ � and we strongly condemn it.

“We join our sister club in Cape Town in urging parliament to reconsider their intentions immediately.

“Meanwhile, we welcome the invitation by the head of communication services in parliament, Luzuko Jacobs, to meet with the Parliamentary Press Gallery Association next week to discuss this matter and other matters of mutual concern. We look forward to the outcome of this meeting.”

“We will continue to be outspoken about any attempt to silence the media” � National Press Club chairman Yusuf Abramjee

Public Protector wants to stem leaks to the media

Antoinette Slabbert

Public Protector Thuli Madonsela is considering changes to the way her office handles investigations, in an effort to stem continued leaks to the media.

Madonsela last week expressed her disappointment at the latest incident, a leak of the provisional report into the conduct of cooperative governance and traditional affairs minister Sicelo Shiceka by Business Day.

She said the publication of the report before it is finalised can only be motivated by greed and self-interest.

“They cannot claim it was done in the public interest, because the final report will be made public. They only had to wait ten days,” she said.

Madonsela has previously made appeals to journalists not to publish reports before they are finalised, since the findings can still change dramatically. She said it is a transgression of the Public Protector’s Act and hinted that she might consider legal action.

Last week Madonsela said the advice of other section 9 institutions is that her office changes the way they handle investigations.

This seems to be a solution to prevent a showdown with the media, whom Madonsela has had a good relationship with so far.

In the interest of transparency complainants and respondents have so far been given a copy of the full preliminary report, Madonsela explained. The respondent then still has the opportunity to submit information in order to explain “his side of the story”. This can change the findings completely.

Madonsela said her office has investigated the leaks and is of the opinion that it mostly originates from the complainant. The current suggestion is that the complainant is not given a copy of the preliminary report and that the respondent only gets a short note indicating the findings that will be made unless he supplies information to the contrary.

Kgalalelo Masibi, spokesperson of the Public Protector, confirmed that this suggestion will be put before the executive committee of the Public Protector’s office.

Here comes the tablet and more

Media24 Afrikaans newspapers are embarking on a digital strategy that will see all journalists equipped with smart phones, filing away on several platforms.

According to Liza Albrecht, who spearheads the strategy for Beeld, Die Burger, Volksblad and Rapport, the arrival of the tablet has necessitated the shift. “We realise that the tablet is a cleverer and more natural partner for print media (than the traditional computer). Print journalism will move to the tablet more and more,” she said.

The papers have already started experimenting with apps by launching an Afrikaans rugby application just before the start of the Rugby World Cup.

In spite of relatively low iPad penetration, more than 2 000 downloaded it on iPad and as many on iPhone.

The three Afrikaans dailies and Rapport will further limit access to their websites in the near future. At the moment content is freely available and is also shared with News24.

Soon the Afrikaans websites will only show a few stories, the rest being available in PDF format or as an app, at a cost of roughly 60 percent of the current cover price per issue. News24 won’t have free access to the content of the Afrikaans papers any more.

Die Burger will be the first to embark on this route later this month.

In November staff at the papers will start with multimedia training in their newsrooms, the Institute for the Advancement of Journalism (IAJ) being the training provider.

This will include the use of social media, writing for each platform and shooting a basic video. It will also include best practice guidelines for all platforms.

Each journalist will receive a smart phone and will learn how to shoot a video at a press conference, for example.

Tribute to an icon

Zelda Venter

An icon has been silenced with the death of veteran Sunday Times columnist Gwen Gill, who passed away on August 24, following a battle with emphysema and a subsequent stroke.

Well known among South Africa’s show business community, Gill always said it as it is.

Her razor sharp comments will be remembered by those who read her columns in the Sunday Times as well as those who fell victim to her.

Gill was the secretary of the then Sunday Times news editor, Steven Mulholland, in the 1970’s. She later became a household name with her television work, consumer column and finally her social scene column.

The 75-year-old retired in 2009 after her final column took a look back on more than a decade of her career, where she interviewed and socialised with some of the most well-known personalities.

Sunday Times editor Ray Hartley was quoted in a tribute to her, as saying that she was “the greatest of a great generation of writers.”

New members

The National Press Club welcomes the following new members and hopes to see them at club events soon:

Isolde Fourie � University of Pretoria, Janine Mosetlhi, Mamojela Mafa & Malixole Popo � South African Red Cross Society, Tshenolo Molamu � South African National Accreditation System, Elzette Schuster � Wonderpark Shopping Centre, Annemarie Truter � Magna Carta Public Relations, Jaconia Kobue � Department of Social Development, Gopolang Peme & Frances Ringwood � Malnor Publishers, Motsepe Sedange � The Informer.

Photograph of the month

It is filmed � forever! Photographer – Corn�l van Heerden


Please send any news, suggestions or information for this newsletter to Martin van Niekerk at the secretariat on,
+27 (0)12 804 5199. Visit the website at