Press club now part of international network
Jos Charle, Chairman
Leaders of press clubs and press centres from across Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific gathered in Kigali, Rwanda in October 2016 during a pioneering congress, which culminated in the adoption of a charter officially founding the ACP Press Clubs Federation (APC-PCF).
The National Press Club was one of these, and I had the privilege to represent our club.
This year in May, we had a follow-up meeting in Brussels, Belgium.
The APC-PCF aims to establish a network of national press clubs or press centres, working in collaboration to strengthen the viability and professionalism of media bodies in ACP regions, and around the world.
It is expected that the network will also be a key platform through which the ACP group organisation engages with the media in member countries, facilitating awareness on ACP and its development issues.
The African, Caribbean and Pacific group of states was created in 1975 and currently comprises of 79 states from the three regions. There are 48 countries from Sub-Saharan Africa, 16 from the Caribbean and 15 from the Pacific.
Through my representation of the National Press Club, I was elected to the ACP-PCF’s executive board, which is chaired by Rwanda’s Gaspard Safari.
Among discussions we’ve had in Rwanda and Belgium were issues of the governance structure, funding mechanisms, activities for the APC-PCF (eg training), the founding charter, constitution, general aims, methods of working and others.
The biggest challenge the body is facing is the distance between member states, and to some extend the language – English vs French. How to overcome these and other urgent matters, will be subject for discussion at another meeting to be held next year, at which, hopefully, the constitution, structures and methods of working will be adopted.
So far the European Union has come to the party in terms of sponsoring travel, accommodation and other logistics, and will seemingly do so for the foreseeable future.
I will keep members posted of developments as they occur.
Entries for 2017 corporate publication competition now open
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Journalists told to safeguard democracy
KwaZulu-Natal Judge President Achmat Jappie recently told the Annual General Meeting of the South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) that it was the responsibility of the media and the judiciary to safeguard South Africa’s open democracy.
“Without information, citizens cannot make informed decisions. If citizens can’t make informed decisions, then they are nothing more than a bunch of sheep,” Jappie said during in his address on active citizenry.
Jappie emphasised the role of the media in disseminating information to citizens and the government.
“If the media doesn’t report, how will the government know what the people are thinking? They will sit in a dark room and create their own reality,” he said.
The AGM was dominated by discussions on the threat of so-called fake news, cyber bulling and physical threats to journalists.
Sanef expressed its outrage at the death threats received by investigative journalists Sipho Masondo (City Press) and Mzilikazi wa Afrika (Sunday Times) in recent months.
The AGM agreed to urgently request a meeting with Police Minister Fikile Mbalula and the acting national commissioner of the SAPS, Lt-Gen Lesetja Mothiba, to discuss these and other threats to and the intimidation of journalists.
The AGM further identified the weaponisation of social media as an immediate threat to the credibility and safety of journalists.
Social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook are being used by nefarious forces to bully, harass and threaten professional journalists doing their jobs.
“We encourage journalists to report any online or physical abuse and harassment to us on Twitter (@SAEditorsForum) by contacting the Sanef office or through their title editors,” Sanef said in a statement.
The AGM noted with concern the fact that South African photojournalist Shiraaz Mohamed has still not been released from captivity in Syria, where he was kidnapped in December.
“We urgently appeal to the Department of International Relations and Cooperation, the Syrian government and other agencies involved to secure his safe release,” Sanef said.
The AGM was informed of the decision by the Press Council’s chair of appeals, Judge Bernard Ngoepe, to allow Sanef to make presentations as amicus curiae during the appeal hearing on the Huffington Post hate speech matter.
Sanef is of the view that the Press Ombudsman erred in making findings of hate speech and discrimination against HuffPost.
The AGM was briefed on a research report into the threats editors face from commercial interests. Sanef will begin to draw up an editorial charter for South African journalists in consultation with its members and the industry.
Go well, Etienne!
Former Pretoria News photographer and press club member, who retired in the Free State, lost his battle against cancer recently.
Press club Chairman Jos Charle said: “A long-standing member of the National Press Club, Etienne attended many activities of the club and remained a loyal member until he retired.”
Thank you for paying membership fees
Thank you to those press club members who have paid their membership fees for 2017.
However, a large number of members have not yet paid their fees and we appeal to them to do so.
Membership fees are R300 for full members and R500 for associate 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.
Contact the secretariat on firstname.lastname@example.org if you are unsure about your payment status.