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Increase in complaints against media

South Africa

Durban - The number of complaints lodged with the Press Ombudsman over newspaper reports increased by 95 percent during the last two years, a SA National Editors' Forum meeting was told on Saturday.

Ombudsman Joe Thloloe told the forum that 246 complaints had been received from mid-September 2011 to now.

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0403 Joe Thloloe - Press Ombudsman, speaks at the Human Rights Commission conference to discuss the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) as well as freedom of expression and the public interest following the Sunday Times publication of details of Health Minister Manto Tshabalala Msimang's medical records. The conference was held at the Human Rights Commission office in Parktown, Johannesburg. 231007 - Picture: Jennifer Bruce

He compared this to 126 complaints about alleged inaccurate or unethical reporting for the corresponding period from 2009 to 2010.

“We are almost being overwhelmed by the number of complaints we are getting,” he told the forum in Durban.

When asked if this meant a worsening of journalistic standards, Thloloe said that compared to the vast daily production of news content, the increased number of complaints still represented only a tiny fraction.

Previous reports from the ombudsman on the increase in complaints have been attributed also to an increased awareness among the public of the availability of the self-regulatory mechanism to investigate and act on bad reporting.

Details of complaints and the Press Ombudsman's findings are available on www.presscouncil.org.za. - Sapa

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