Media: Media slam DA’s Majavu blacklisting

11 02 2011

For the DA a journalist that takes the lives of poor people seriously is automatically biased. They are now exposed their authoritarianism to the middle classes.

Media slam DA’s Majavu blacklisting

February 11 2011 at 11:13am
By Marianne Merten

The DA’s blacklisting of a Sowetan journalist sets a “problematic precedent”, says Jane Duncan, professor and chairwoman of the Media and Information Society at Rhodes University.

It was of concern if any political party that carried public power took a step to stem the flow of information in this way, she said on Thursday.

“If they have concerns, they are not dealing with the problem by refusing to provide information to that journalist. They should continue to take the concerns to the Press Ombudsman to establish systematic bias,” Duncan said.

“If the journalist is biased, it will come out in the wash.”

DA executive director of communications and research Ross van der Linde is quoted in Thursday’s Sowetan as confirming the party had cut all communication with Anna Majavu, adding it was not obliged to send information to any individual or organisation.

“Majavu is not a journalist. Some journalists and editors disagree with our policies and views, and they are entitled to do so. But Anna Majavu is a former South African Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) spin doctor, who has a particular political agenda,” he said.

The DA’s decision followed a complaint to the press ombudsman over a story which linked one of its MPs, and two metro police officers, to the shooting with rubber bullets of two children in Khayelitsha. The story was based on the outcome of an arbitration process.

In September, the press ombudsman directed the Sowetan to publish a correction of a sentence that incorrectly attributed a statement to the arbitrator, as well as a summary of the ruling. The newspaper was also reprimanded for a misleading headline.

The DA’s communication director, Gareth van Onselen, said on Thursday the newspaper had “failed properly to comply”, adding the DA had a long and detailed record of bias on the part of Majavu.

“There is no point in working with a journalist who is not interested in reporting the news,” he said.

Duncan disagreed and pointed out that the DA had been vocal in support of media self-regulation and freedom of expression. Cutting off communication was “completely inappropriate” and sent the message that the DA would only deal with journalists who gave it positive coverage.

The South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) said it was “deeply perturbed” by the reported blacklisting of Majavu. It said the move “flies in the face of the DA’s founding liberal values, including commitment to press freedom”.

Calling into question Majavu’s credibility as a journalist simply because she had worked for a trade union was “preposterous”.

Sanef called on the DA to rethink its position and lift the ban.

Meanwhile, the labour sector has come out in support of Majavu. Both the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa and Samwu condemned the DA’s “dastardly censorship” and “immature behaviour”. – Cape Times




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