Press body defends award for rhino

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IOL news nov 19  rhino Reuters File photo

Johannesburg - Who is going to accept the award for the 2012 Newsmaker of the Year?

This is the question many media personalities and some of the South African public want to know.

The National Press Club on Friday announced the South African rhino as last year’s newsmaker of the year.

Antoinette Slabbert, the press club’s chairwoman, said they would not be reviewing the rhino decision because there was no substantive reason to do so.

“That decision was well considered by a committee which consists of members of the media and people who monitor the media as well,” she said.

Slabbert said they had discussed the choice in depth.

She said Marikana was considered, and even though it was, for her, the biggest and most shocking event, they had to consider who the biggest newsmaker from January to December had been.

“It’s a bit unconventional to decide on an animal as a newsmaker,” she said, adding that Time magazine’s person of the year was once a computer.

“It’s not that far fetched and there is no need for the upheaval,” said Slabbert.

She said the press club was not saying that animals were more important than human life, but the decision had been based on who had received the most consistent coverage from the beginning to the end of the year.

One person who has been vocal about his thoughts is Yusuf Abramjee, the press club’s former chairman.

“I’m not saying it didn’t deserve the award, but there were other significant organisations, individuals and events that were more deserving,” he said.

The ANC Youth League said on Sunday that the National Press Club should interact more with South Africans and unearth their stories.

The organisation said it was concerned that the press club decided that the rhino was more “precious than human life” when it named the rhino as 2012 newsmaker of the year.

“While the ANCYL believes that the environment and animals need to be protected, it means that millions of South African human stories went untold in 2012,” said spokesman Thabo Kupa.

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The Star - additional reporting by Sapa

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