Former Bosasa COO Angelo Agrizzi. Picture: Simphiwe Mbokazi/African News Agency (ANA)

Johannesburg - The SA National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) on Tuesday said it welcomes the investigation by the Zondo Commission into allegations that journalists were paid by Bosasa, but it also condemned the facilities and security company for actively manipulating and distorting media coverage. 

"We outright condemn the practices of Bosasa in actively manipulating and distorting media coverage and intimidating those who were exposing their corrupt relationship with various government departments," said Sanef in a statement.

"We call on the Zondo Commission and law enforcement agencies to deal harshly with those who undermined and intimidated investigative journalists and journalism and call on the individual media houses to also act immediately against those found guilty of receiving bribes."

However, the editors' forum also said it notes that some of the people named as recipients of "payments" from Bosasa by that company's former COO Angelo Agrizzi were no longer journalists, but were public relations practitioners.

"On the issue of bribing journalists to write positive stories, Sanef calls on all sources including our colleagues to come forward with evidence and information to help the Commission in its investigation. We strongly encourage and support the outing of rogue journalists," said the editors' forum.

Sanef said it campaigns for ethical journalism and is appalled that some in the profession might have violated the sacrosanct rule to practice the highest standard of journalism, maintaining independence, credibility and a relationship of trust with the public.

Press code

The Press Code is very clear on our obligations, stating under the subheading on Independence and Conflict of Interest that:

The media shall:

2.1 not allow commercial, political, personal or other non-professional considerations to influence reporting, and avoid conflicts of interest as well as practices that could lead readers to doubt the media’s independence and professionalism;

2.2 not accept any benefit which may influence coverage;

2.3 indicate clearly when an outside organization has contributed to the cost of newsgathering; and

2.4 keep editorial material clearly distinct from advertising and sponsored events.

African News Agency/ANA