Yogas Nair. Picture: Ian Landsberg News Agency (ANA)
Yogas Nair. Picture: Ian Landsberg News Agency (ANA)

Yogas Nair named Internal Press Ombudsman at Independent Media

By Supplied Time of article published Feb 5, 2021

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Internal ‘readers representatives’ have been an industry standard across the world for decades and continuing the good work of this office at South Africa’s largest print publisher, is respected journalist and editor, Yogas Nair, who will take up the post of Internal Press Ombudsman at Independent Media.

Independent’s internal press ombudsman office was launched in 2016. The office, as the public’s representative, provides readers with an objective conduit through which to they can register their complaints over a particular story, or request for it to be investigated.

Over the past two years, Nair has worked closely with the internal ombudsman’s office as the group public advocate responsible for mediation between editors and complainants.

“I am honoured to assume the role of the Independent Group’s Ombudsman to look into complaints or observations from readers about substantive editorial issues and publish their findings.

“I believe that to make self-regulation credible, the media must step up and commit themselves to systems of good governance, transparency and a greater willingness to admit their mistakes. For self-regulation to command public trust, newspapers must be held accountable to their own editorial and ethical standards, and to provide readers with an independent assessment of their observations.

“More than just showing that the press can take a punch, if required, and not just deliver one, the Ombudsman is the single most effective check on press transparency and accountability and can cement readers to their newspaper and enhance the credibility of the news organisations,” Nair said.

Of the changing media landscape that has promoted an era of fast news, and sadly, fake news, Nair commented: “In the digital era, building trust with the audience is a priority, and I look forward to maintaining honesty in journalism and keeping democracy alive and vibrant.”

Nair joined Independent Media in 2001 as a freelance reporter at the Post. She was later appointed senior reporter. In 2012, Nair joined the Daily News as a senior reporter before being appointed its news editor in 2013. In 2014, shortly after Dr Iqbal Survé led the consortium that purchased Independent Media, he appointed Nair as editor of the Post – it's first female editor in 60 years.

Proving her capability in this role, in 2016, Nair became the second female editor of the 168-year-old Mercury newspaper. A few months later, while still editor of the Mercury, she was appointed KwaZulu-Natal Regional Executive Editor, both positions she held until February 2020 when she was appointed Deputy Editor-in-Chief for the Independent Media group.

Adding gravitas to Nair’s office, are a number of respected industry individuals who make up the adjudication panel, appeals panel and press council. They are:

The Adjudication Panel:

Yogas Nair

*Moleboheng Mosia - a legal assistant at Independent Media

*Zamambo Mkhize - former head of SABC KZN

* Yogin Devan - former journalist now communications specialist.

The Appeals Panel:

*Brijlal Ramguthee – former editor now retired

* Val Bojé – former editor now retired

* Moegsien Williams – editor-in-chief and now retired.

Press Council:

*Zenariah Barends – head of publications at the Community Chest and former head of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s investigative unit in the Western Cape.

* Taweni Gondwe Xaba - former Oprah Magazine editor

* Japhet Ncube – former editor of The Star

* Yogin Devan

Independent Media executive chairman Dr Survé said: “Integrity, impartiality and the proven ability to critically analyse subject matter are important requirements for this post, all of which Yogas has in abundance. We are delighted that our internal procedures will be guided by someone of Yogas’ calibre who will enforce excellent journalistic standards whilst giving due consideration to the right to a free press.

“We are equally pleased that a seasoned and illustrious group of professionals have agreed to assist and provide expertise to the various panels and the Press Council, further adding to the independence of the proceedings and ensuring fair play.”

While in other parts of the world, cost-cutting measures on a profit-challenged industry is seeing some of the biggest publishers close their ombudsman facility, Independent Media considers the role to be vital in order to maintain media values and principles, and to protect the rights of the public.

Nair and her office will handle all external complaints and will adjudicate each on its own merits. She assumes the role with immediate effect.

Click here to contact the office of the Internal Ombudsman.

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