The #SABC 8 – back in!
The SABC continues to dominate media news headlines.
Only days ago, the future of the #SABC8 was still not clear, but after instructing its legal team not to proceed with further legal action against the dismissed journalists, the SABC has reinstated seven dismissed news employees (the eighth one not being a permanent employee).
The decision comes despite the broadcaster locking Foeta Krige, Suna Venter, Krivani Pillay and Jacques Steenkamp out of its Johannesburg offices, even after the labour court ruling in their favour.
We followed some of the responses to this judgment on twitter:
Jacques Steenkamp @JacqueSteenkamp: Our Constitution wins again! Now let’s get back to the job we love! @krivpillay @foetakrige @sunav @solidariteit #SABC8 #NotInOurName
EyeWitnessNews @ewnupdates: [POLL RESULTS] 90% of EWN users believe the #SABC8 should be reinstated. Do you agree?
Zwelinzima Vavi @Zwelinzima1: Sorry Hlaudi and your backers we are not a banana republic yet!
Yusuf Abramjee @Abramjee: Well done to the #SABC4 – Now more than ever before we must mobilize for #Hlaudi to go!!!
Eusebius McKaiser @Eusebius: Congrats to these 4 journalists for standing up against workplace bullying at the SABC and winning #NoToCensorship
George Claassen @GeorgeClaassen Of #censorships at least one pleasant thing may be said: that they never work – HL Mencken @foetakrige @sunav @MonSpek1 @zarsg @MaxduPreez
SANEF @SAEditorsForum: We call on the SABC to abide by this court decision & allow all 8 journalists to resume their roles without further harassment/intimidation
Denzil Taylor @DenzilTaylor: Another bloody nose…
Tembani Ngobeni @Tembanic: This #SABC4 thing is not cool. I thought it was a new channel
Election reporters – take note
With only days to go before the 2016 Local Government Elections, many journalists who do not usually cover politics will be expected to report on the elections. While it is, for the most part, business as usual for journalists, there are additional laws and regulations to take cognizance of.
You remain subject to all industry codes such as the Press Code (print and digital media), the Code of Conduct for Broadcasters (public broadcaster and private licensees) as well as ICASA regulations for community broadcasting. The most important point to consider is fairness. All these codes require the ventilation of opposing views in your election coverage.
The Electoral Code of Conduct enforced by the Independent Election Commission (IEC) on all political parties and candidates makes provision for the media, requiring candidates to respect the role of journalists during the election period. Access to political meetings, marches and rallies may not be withheld. You are entitled to report contraventions of the code to the IEC. View more information on how to lodge a complaint.
Some specific provisions you must be familiar with:
- Accreditation – No formal accreditation process is prescribed for the 2016 elections. However, you are required to identify yourself as a member of the media by presenting:
- A valid press card OR signed letter from your editor or the institution you are representing on a freelance basis; AND
- Your ID document or passport
- Publication bans – It is a criminal offence to take any visuals of a completed voting ballot that may compromise the secrecy of a vote. You are not allowed to take visuals within the boundaries of a voting station without permission from the Presiding Officer at the station.
- Access to voting stations – Access is granted at the discretion of the Presiding Officer or her deputy at the station. Always ask to speak to the Presiding Officer. Should you be denied access, you may appeal to the Provincial Electoral Officer. It is advisable to contact the provincial or national spokesperson of the IEC immediately. No access is granted before 7am and after 7pm when voting commences.
- Topics of interviews – Section 109 of the Electoral Act 73 of 1998 prohibits any exit polls during the voting hours. You may not conduct ‘vox pops’ outside the voting station to ask voters how they voted. However, you are entitled to interview voters, party agents and candidates outside the boundaries of a voting station on any other topic. Apart from Presiding Officers, no official working for the IEC may grant media interviews. The Presiding Officer is mandated to talk about a) voter turnout at their voting station and b) arrangements for voting at their station. Any other queries for the IEC should be referred to the provincial or national spokespeople.
Herman Scholtz (BCom LLM, BPhil Journalism) is the legal advisor to the National Press Club and news editor of Rapport.
Registration for IABC conference open
The International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) Africa has announced that registration is open for the IABC Africa Conference 2016, the annual conference designed by and for communication professionals at the forefront of strategic innovation in the field.
The theme for this year’s conference is innovating business communication, covering a myriad of topics including the new skills set required of communicators in a rapidly changing landscape. The conference will be held from 2 to 4 November at the Vineyard Hotel and Spa in Cape Town.
The conference will host distinguished panellists and speakers, including business leaders, communicators, reputation and crisis management experts, students and consultants. Presenters include communication expert Robin Russell McCasland from Fort Worth Texas, Janine Lazarus, media and reputation specialist and Gert Schoeman, head of communication at Anglo American Platinum. Closing off the first day of the conference, communication specialist Daniel Munslow will chair a panel discussion with leading communication practitioners about the skills readiness for 2020.
“The speakers at the IABC Africa conference represent many important facets of the communication profession – the consultants, industry, government, non-profits, and thought leaders,” said Carol Allers, Chair of IABC Africa. “We feel that it is important that all stakeholders are given a platform to share their knowledge and experience as we work toward driving an understanding of the key skills communicators need to stay on top of their game in the years to come.”
Topics include ‘youthification’, agility, digital communication, risk and resilience, leadership, strategic measurement, business acumen, crisis communication and cross-cultural communication.
New social media tools empower citizen journalism
It may be inside a protest rally, or in front of a deadly shooting. Smartphones, video and social media are empowering citizens to tell their stories like never before.
This became clear with the live video earlier this month from Diamond Reynolds when she captured the aftermath of the shooting by a police officer of her boyfriend Philando Castile in Minnesota and streamed it live on Facebook.
The unprecedented live feed was just the latest in a series of events highlighting the power of citizen journalists to bring to light events and viewpoints that would otherwise not be part of mainstream media.
Citizen journalism has been around for centuries, but each technological advance has made it easier to reach more people, said Valerie Belair-Gagnon, who heads the Yale University Information Society Project and is an incoming professor of journalism at the University of Minnesota.
Prominent examples from the past include the 1963 Zapruder film of the Kennedy assassination and the 1991 beating by Los Angeles police of Rodney King and the events of the Arab Spring.
More recently, citizen videos offered immediate and intimate perspectives from the truck attack in the southern French city of Nice and the 2015 rampage in Paris, as well as dozens of citizen confrontations with police in the United States.
“In each case, a new technology prompted us to be aware that citizens can contribute journalism in certain ways,” Belair-Gagnon said. “In the shift we are seeing since 2004, citizen media is becoming fully integrated to journalism.”
Belair-Gagnon said the rise of citizen journalism is not necessarily negative for the mainstream media. “For me, it’s a positive story because journalists are not the only gatekeepers,” she told AFP. “The fact that the public or citizens are able to gather information and distribute it to the public provides an opportunity for richer storytelling.”
Jeff Achen, executive editor of the Minnesota non-profit group The UpTake, which trains citizen journalists, said the latest incidents show a “democratization” of the news media. “Media can’t be everywhere, but there is something with a citizen telling their own story from their own perspective which can be very valuable.”
Achen, a former television and print reporter, said citizen journalism won’t necessarily replace traditional media but may augment it. “With the legacy media, some of the news can feel manufactured and manipulated. It can feel corporate sponsored,” he said.
Citizens can enhance journalism’s traditional role of holding powerful institutions like the police accountable. Platforms such as Twitter’s Periscope and Facebook Live, which allow anyone to broadcast an event, can create “excitement” in this effort, said Achen.
“I think this will become more prevalent,” he added. “Everyone is going to make it routine. They will take out their cellphones whenever a police officer pulls over and does something” to bear witness to the facts, Achen said.
Ethan Zuckerman, director of the Center for Civic Media at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said the ability for citizens to reach the masses can help drive social change. “Powerful as these videos are for mobilizing activists, they may be more powerful in bringing new participants into the racial justice movement,” he said in a blog post.
Dan Gillmor, an Arizona State University professor and author of a book on citizen journalism, said Reynolds “changed our perception of media” with the “shocking and heartbreaking real-time web video of the last minutes of Philando Castile’s life.”
Gillmor said the Reynolds video was not necessarily something new but showed “the velocity of change is accelerating” in citizen news production. “Her video was a three-faceted act: witnessing, activism and journalism,” Gillmor said in a blog post.
“Even though few people saw it in real time, she was saving it to the data cloud in real time, creating and — one hopes — preserving a record of what may or may not be judged eventually to have been a crime by a police officer. What Reynolds did was brave, and important for all kinds of reasons.”
Gillmor said Reynolds “taught the rest of us something vital: We all have an obligation to witness and record some things even if we are not directly part of what’s happening.”
These events also raise questions about how platforms such as Facebook respond to their role as conduits for citizen journalism. Facebook’s role came into question when it briefly took down Reynolds video, before restoring it.
Gillmor and others argue that the event underscores that Facebook is part of the news industry, despite its claim to be a neutral platform. “Facebook hasn’t given a plausible explanation for its initial removal of Reynolds’ video,” Gillmor said. “The point is that the video remains visible because Facebook allows it to be visible.”
Gillmor added that it is “enormously dangerous that an enormously powerful enterprise can decide what free speech will be. I don’t want a few people’s whims in Menlo Park overruling the First Amendment and other free speech ‘guarantees.'”
Welcome to our new members
We welcome the following new National Press Club members:
Kgalalelo Pampoen – Productivity SA, Themba Thobela – GCIS, Thandeka Mbonane – Boston Media House, Tshego Monyamane – Spotlight Newspaper, Lerato Selepe – Lesira-Teq, Trish Taylor – Life Retreat, Mokete Radebe – Tshwane FM.
We look forward to seeing you at a press club event soon.