Biggest Fashion Sale Of The Year! Shop 12 000 Up To 70% OFF!
Cape Town - Reporting on corruption could be patriotic – if it is done in a balanced and fair manner and puts South Africa first, says President Jacob Zuma.
In a parliamentary reply on Monday, the president said:
“Covering stories exposing corruption, for example, in a balanced and fair manner could also count as patriotism.”
Balance and fairness were the hallmarks of good journalism, he said.
“The coverage of news in a more patriotic manner does not mean that journalists should not report in an objective and balanced manner. It means ensuring balance and fairness and putting the country first before any other consideration.”
Responding to a parliamentary question by Cope MP Leonard Ramatlakane, Zuma said his call for patriotic news coverage was not limited to the SABC, but was a general call, which “cannot be interpreted as an attempt to interfere with editorial independence”.
In September, in off-the-cuff remarks to journalism students visiting Parliament , Zuma said: “When I’m in South Africa, every morning you feel like you must leave this country because the reporting concentrates on the opposite of the positive.”
Fresh from a visit to Mexico, Zuma appeared to be impressed by how the media there did not report on crime or “launder dirty linen in public”.
However, Javier Garza, World Editors’ Forum special adviser on safety and editorial director of the Mexican newspaper El Siglo de Torreón, dismissed this as “insulting”.
In his response, published by City Press, Garza said: “Mexican media outlets avoid covering crime and violence in their communities not because of a patriotic duty, but because of threats and aggressions unleashed against them by criminal organisations that authorities have been unable to stop.”
The Freedom of Expression Institute (FXI) called on Zuma to retract his statement.
In his parliamentary reply on Monday, Zuma said calling for “a more patriotic-style of journalism” was not aimed at undermining journalistic principles like balance and fairness.
“It is a call to the media to cover all sides of the South African story and ensure that a balanced and fuller picture emerges of the country and its achievements as well as challenges.”
His call for a patriotic media came after a widely reported drive towards 70 percent “happy news” quota by SABC acting chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng.
While Ramatlakane’s parliamentary question was focused on whether “the government intends to establish the SABC as the leading broadcaster in patriotic reporting”, Zuma chose to answer more broadly in keeping with his call to the media generally.
On broadcasting, Zuma said: “Broadcasting patriotic news, objectivity and balance are not mutually exclusive.”