Journos can’t be party members, says Zille

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Johannesburg - Journalists cannot be political party members, DA leader Helen Zille said on Saturday.

“I agree that you can't be a member of a political party and a journalist,” Zille told reporters in Johannesburg.

“I believe that being a member of a political party is incompetent with some professions.”

Zille was speaking at the announcement of her party's prospective Parliamentary and premier candidates.

She said she was sharing her personal opinion.

Zille said she believed most journalists were politically affiliated to some parties, and this was evident through their writing.

In November, it was alleged that several journalists had submitted their names for Democratic Alliance Parliamentary candidacy.

Some names had been left off the list, which was released on Saturday, and no journalist names were on it.

The words “confidential candidate” had been placed where the omitted names would have been.

Zille said they had wanted to give these candidates a decent time period to inform their employers and serve their notices.

“Others however, may remove their names from the list,” said Zille.

She said once cleared, the names of those confidential candidates would be announced.

On Friday, Independent Newspapers said senior journalist Donwald Pressly has been suspended for allegedly applying to be on a political party's list of parliamentary candidates for the general election.

“Mr Pressly did this without informing his editor, and while continuing to write news as well as opinion and analysis on the said political party without declaring his political intentions to our readers,” group executive editor Karima Brown said in a statement.

Pressly is Business Report's Cape Town bureau chief.

Brown said if the allegation was true, it would constitute a breach of their editorial code of conduct, code of ethics, and a breach of trust.

Pressly's attorney, Michael Bagraim told Sapa his client had been honest about his political affiliation and had admitted to belonging to the DA.

In November, Business Day reported that Sunday Times executive editor Brendan Boyle was suspended after allegedly applying to become a Democratic Alliance MP.

It reported that Boyle sent his curriculum vitae, which was later withdrawn, to the party as part of his application. - Sapa

Statement from Independent Newspapers on the suspension of Donwald Pressly

Business Report has this week placed its Cape Town bureau chief, Mr. Donwald

Pressly, on suspension pending an internal investigation that will consider certain

aspects of Mr. Pressly’s conduct. Under ordinary circumstances, neither Independent Newspapers nor any of its titles would comment publicly about such matters pertaining to its employees.

We take our employees’ right to privacy and dignity very seriously, and are keenly aware that labour disputes can often be a source of stress and personal anguish for those involved.

However, given high public interest in the matter and the fundamental issues of trust that are raised by Mr Pressly’s conduct, it is necessary to communicate publicly. It has come to Independent’s attention that Mr Pressly has recently sought elected political office with a political party, by applying to the said party’s Electoral College to be on its list of candidates for parliament during the 2014 general elections.

Mr. Pressly did this without informing his editor, and while continuing to write news as well as opinion & analysis on the said political party without declaring his political intentions to our readers.

Should this be proven to be true, it would in our view constitute a breach of Independent Newspapers’ editorial code of conduct and code of ethics and a breach of the trust that those readers place in our titles and the writers who put them together.

This and other unrelated issues are the subject of the internal investigation.It is especially incumbent on the media to be vigilant during an election year, when our profession comes under a great amount of pressure from political parties jostling for space and prominence in our platforms. Our readers and audiences expect nothing less of us.

 In line with this, our company is drafting and will soon issue a set of election coverage guidelines for all our journalists, to help them navigate the ethical, legal and operational challenges of elections coverage.

 Karima Brown

GROUP EXECUTIVE EDITOR


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