Press code rules should be reviewed - DA


The Democratic Alliance (DA) has called for a review of the National Press Code after the acquittal of two journalists who the party had accused of showing favouritism towards the ruling African National Congress (ANC).

Yesterday, Press Ombudsman, Johan Retief, said that no evidence could be find that Independent Newspapers group executive editor, Karima Brown, and opinion and analysis group editor Vukani Mde were acting outside their jurisdiction after social media images showed them attending the ANC’s 103rd birthday celebration in Cape Town three weeks ago, while dressed in the party’s attire.

In his ruling, Retief said that no articles, portraying the ANC in a positive light, were published directly after the journalists’ had attended the event, stating that Brown and Mde had gone to the event in their personal capacity.

Speaking in a statement on the party’s website after the verdict, Van Damme said that although they accept Retief’s interpretation of events, the Code itself should be amended.

“This is an opportunity for the South African Press Council to assess whether the Press Code’s ambit is currently broad enough to ensure the spirit of independence and standards captured in its preamble is practiced in the journalism industry,” she said.

Van Damme added that the party condemns the actions of both Brown and Mde “especially given the seniority of positions they hold at Independent newspapers and the public perception created by their actions”.

“Their attendance of the ANC birthday celebrations must also be seen against the backdrop of the Independent Group’s axing of independently-minded journalists and the unnecessary apology recently issued to the President,” she said, referring to the recent dismissal of veteran journalist and former Independent columnist, Max du Preez, after a December article in he described President Jacob Zuma as “SA’s one man wrecking ball”. A subsequent apology from the media group was later issued to Zuma.


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