‘Our South African Rhino’ remains National Press Club-Aon South Africa Newsmaker for 2012

“The National Press Club confirms its decision to make the South African rhino its Newsmaker of the Year for 2012,” says club Chairperson Antoinette Slabbert.

“We have taken note of the huge interest in the announcement. This includes criticism on Twitter and the support in News24 comments and media polls. However, as mentioned in our announcing statement, we believe our judging criteria are sound and our decision well considered. There is no substantive reason to reconsider.”

Slabbert says the rhino received consistent news coverage throughout year -reported by most media channels at least every second or third day.

“The rhino is more than a conservation story. It cuts across all environmental, social, population, economic and tourism boundaries. For example, poor communities are sucked into the plight of rhino poaching while the kingpins count their earnings in other countries.

“Many worthy suggestions for the newsmaker award were made, including the Marikana massacre. The nominations are judged in terms of news value and impact, and the amount of media coverage created by the nominees. We acknowledge Marikana as probably the biggest news event – tragic and shocking. However, it occurred only late last year.

“It is not a merit, celebratory or emotional award. It is not merely a matter of considering the number of nominations received for a specific nominee � nominations are evaluated and discussed in-depth, taking all factors into account.

“The process entails a call for nominations to the club’s members, after which these are evaluated and discussed, and voted for if necessary, by the club’s exco members. The exco consists of journalists and communications practitioners working in the media environment.”

She says as is the case with many associations, sponsorships are raised to host a presentation event.

“Our sponsorship criteria determine that the naming sponsor has no insight or influence over the nomination and decision process. It also does not sit on the adjudicating panel.

“Aon South Africa has been the naming sponsor for four years. The organisation has been a model sponsor in the true sense of the word with no interference in the selection process whatsoever.

“We fully realise that there is no single correct answer. We welcome open, two-way debate and constructive criticism. There is obviously room to differ. However, to say that the club is ill-informed and not in touch with the South African society as some critics stated, is mischievous. Difference of opinion does not create a crisis,” says Slabbert.

Note to editors

The National Press Club represents it’s just over 500 members, consisting of more than 50 percent journalists (full members) and communications practitioners (associate members) working in the media environment.