Survival is imperative in media

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Johannesburg - The media industry is undergoing fundamental changes and survival is the imperative, the SA National Editors Forum (Sanef) said on Monday

“The industry is in such fundamental repositioning and reshaping, it is possibly less focused on transformation and diversity than it should be.

“For the moment the imperative is survival. This is not an excuse...,” said Ferial Haffajee, chairwoman of Sanef's ethics and diversity committee.

Haffajee told the Print and Digital Media Transformation Task Team (PDMTTT) hearing in Johannesburg that journalists were leaving the profession and joining corporates and the number of workers in newsrooms was not big.

“There has been some progress (in transformation) but of course it is not enough. Non-racialism and non-sexism means that we've got to look like our country and we don't.”

According to figures from Print Media SA two years ago, there were a total of 17 black editors, 20 white editors, 28 were male, while there were only nine female editors.

She said media houses in partnership with Sector Education Training Authorities and universities had done well in skills development.

However, Haffajee added, there were still problems in finding trainers for indigenous languages.

The Independent Newspapers, Times Media Group, Mail&Guardian, New Age, Media 24 and the SABC had instituted good in-house schemes to provide new graduates with essential work experience.

Sanef would conduct its own study on transformation in the media industry.

The task team was established after calls from society and Parliament for transformation of the South African media landscape.

The hearings in Johannesburg followed others in KwaZulu-Natal, the Eastern Cape, Limpopo and Mpumalanga, where local and regional publishers made submissions.

The Johannesburg hearings include submissions from local and regional publishers in Gauteng, North West, Western Cape and Northern Cape.

Presenting their submissions gender rights organisations said its research in 2008 showed that only nine percent of media houses in South Africa had a gender policy in their work environment,

Kubi Rama, chief operations officer of GL, told the hearing that men earned eight percent more than their women colleagues in the media industry.

Rama said other GL research showed that in news content, 81 percent of the sources were men, and 19 percent women.

Gender-based violence made up four percent of news content, and HIV and Aids issues two percent.

Last week, media group Caxton pulled out of the PDMTTT.

Caxton said it pulled out due to the current investigations by the Competition Commission into anti-competitive behaviour by media houses.

Caxton CEO Paul Jenkins said the PDMTTT work overlapped with that of the Competition Commission.

The Competition Commission is probing suspected anti-competitive behaviour by Caxton, Naspers, Time Media Group and Independent Newspapers. - Sapa


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