INDABA Newsletter | October 2014

So that Black Wednesday never happens again

The fourth annual Percy Qoboza memorial lecture was held on Sunday, 19 October.

Presented annually by the National Press Club in collaboration with the Department of Communication Science at Unisa, the lecture commemorates 19 October 1977 – or Black Wednesday – when the apartheid regime declared illegal 19 Black Consciousness organisations, banned two newspapers and detained scores of activists.

The World newspaper editor Percy Qoboza and other journalists were subsequently arrested and jailed.

Today 19 October is known as National Media Freedom Day.

Titled ‘Is media freedom safe in South Africa – or should we be afraid?’, this year’s lecture was delivered by Mondli Makhanya, City Press Editor-at-Large and renowned columnist.

Speakers, panellists and the Qoboza family

Participants in the panel discussion were Mpumelelo Mkhabela, Editor of the Sowetan, Antoinette Slabbert of Moneyweb and Herman Scholtz of Rapport.

As in the past, the lecture was attended by members of the Qoboza family.

The annual National Press Club bursary of R12 000-00, to an honours-level Unisa journalism student, was awarded to Yolani Goci.

Thank you press club!

It all started with an e-mail from the coordinator for the honours degree in the Department of Communication Science at Unisa, Mrs Sokie van Gass.

In the e-mail Mrs van Gass was inviting the best performing students who graduated in 2013 with a Bachelor’s degree in Communication Science and who continued with an honours degree in Communication in 2014 to apply for the Percy Qoboza study bursary from the National Press Club.

Press club bursary winner Yolani Goci

We were required to write a motivational essay (the guidelines were provided) on why one deserves to win the award. I decided to send in my motivational essay the night before the due date as I was completing and submitting an assignment for one of my modules that was due the same week. I was shocked and overwhelmed when I received a phone call from the Chair of the Department of Communication Science, Professor Danie du Plessis on Sunday, 19 October informing me of my win. Unisa has thousands of students and an abundance of academic potential, so to be chosen among some of the best is a confidence builder.

The money will go towards settling my current outstanding balance of R4 600 at Unisa for this year. I still have two more modules to register for in 2015 to complete my honours degree in Media Studies and the rest of the money will go towards registration and text books in 2015.

Thank you once again.
Yolani Goci

Wits Journalism releases second State of the Newsroom report

At a Media Freedom Day celebration and Black Wednesday commemoration, co-hosted with the South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) on 17 October 2014, Wits Journalism released its second State of the Newsroom report.

Continued decline of print circulation, on-going retrenchments, and an increased number of broadcast media, both television and radio stations, are some of the media landscape trends documented in the report, titled, ‘Disruptions Accelerated’.

Growing harassment

The report also highlights an apparent growing trend in harassment of and violence against journalists, particularly of photojournalists, while an ominous legislative backdrop – the impending signing into law of the Protection of State Information and Intelligence Bills, and the existing anachronistic National Key Points Act – casts a dark cloud. In addition, the Media Appeals Tribunal still lurks as an ANC resolution.

Senior Lecturer at Wits Journalism, Dr Glenda Daniels, who leads the State of the Newsroom research, said, “The independent media in South Africa is strong but we have to be very vigilant because there are threats all around us.”

Twitter ‘indispensable professional tool’

In a chapter titled: ‘Digital-First Developments: Experimentation and Promiscuity’, the report notes that as audiences transition from traditional to new media, they are growing more and more “platform agonistic”, showing decreasing loyalty to particular brands and demanding news from a variety of sources and in various forms. In turn, newsrooms are struggling to keep up. Digital offerings are still not bringing in sustainable revenue.

The use of social media in the newsroom has increased hugely but journalists and news editors feel that there is “too much pressure to do too many things.” Twitter is regarded as an “indispensable professional tool” with journalists spending, on average, at least 15 to 20 minutes per hour on Twitter – much more if they are live-tweeting events.

There is a large sector of community newspapers that appear to be making a valuable contribution to diversity of news in terms of content and plurality of voices. Further, there is an inspiring idealism among editors and journalists – for most, their driving force is to serve their communities. However, the sector struggles with sustainability issues and is in need of a viable financial model.

Community radio faces challenges

The report also contains a section on community radio that uses three case studies to illustrate the challenges faced, including commercial difficulties, political pressures, community power plays from religious and traditional leaders, language and cultural sensitivities and tensions and pressures from listeners – all trying to add their particular influence, and often even interfering directly with the stations. The report documents a case of arson that destroyed a station building.

The State of the Newsroom research is the first of its kind from any journalism school in South Africa. Daniels said it was of huge value to the industry because it provided facts where previously there had been only assumptions.

According to Wits Journalism’s Professors Anton Harber and Franz Kr�ger, writing in the preface to the Report, “Disruption in our newsrooms opens up opportunities as it shakes up institutions and leadership which may have become complacent, rigid and defensive. It can also be challenging and punishing, costing jobs, creating fear and uncertainty and sacrificing skills and experience.

“This turmoil is a global phenomenon as newsrooms take on the challenges of new technologies, but it has distinct local characteristics, particularly because of the on-going demands of social and political transformation needed to create a media which can best serve democracy and deal with the legacies of apartheid. State of the Newsroom aims to provide research that will inform and stimulate those engaged in these challenges.”

Public Protector hosted roundtable on role of ombudsman

Public Protector Thuli Madonsela recently hosted her Swedish counterpart, Chief Parliamentary Ombudsman Elisabet Fura, during a roundtable discussion on the role of the ombudsman in Pretoria.

Fura, whose country was the first in the world to establish the ombudsman more than 200 years ago, addressed the roundtable on the topic: “The role of an ombudsman in ensuring accountability in a democracy – lessons from Sweden.”

The roundtable discussion was facilitated by former National Press Club chairperson Antoinette Slabbert.

2015 MTN Radio Awards add ‘Field News Reporter’ to categories

Entries have opened for the 2015 MTN Radio Awards, which have added ‘Field News Reporter’ to the categories, following suggestions by constituents within the industry.

Stations and individuals have a 3-month window to submit examples of their finest work by 20 January (manual submissions) or 27 January 2015 (online submissions).

“The new category of Field News Reporter was suggested to us and we feel that it will add value and generate some compelling entries for the adjudicators to evaluate,” says CEO of the MTN Radio Awards, Lance Rothschild.

There have also been some changes to the rules for entry into the awards, with some restrictions being placed on the number of submissions in each category by individuals and stations.

Rothschild also called for nominations for additional adjudicators. “With the growth of entries, it is necessary for us to continually evaluate the adjudication panel and to ensure that we have a broad range of skills and knowledge amongst the panel. I’m pleased that we have already managed to recruit some new members to the panel and I hope to have a panel of about 60 adjudicators for 2015,” he says.

The winners will be announced on 18 April 2014.

For more information, go to

New members

The National Press Club welcomes the following new members:

Jaco Visser – Farmer’s Weekly, Clive Mboyi – SABC, Lebogang Selibi – National Credit Regulator, Ananias Ndlovu – North West News Online, Zintombi Nicolite – student.

We look forward to seeing you at a press club event soon!

Thank you for paying membership fees

Thank you to those press club members who have paid their membership fees for 2014.

Despite numerous reminders, a number of members have not yet paid their fees and will be removed from the membership list.

Membership fees are R220 for full members, R350 for associate members and R150 for student members.

Members are requested to use their surname as reference when payment is done, so that it can be picked up easily by the secretariat.


Please send any news, suggestions or information for this newsletter to Martin van Niekerk at the secretariat on, 082 257 0305. Website | Facebook | Twitter