Johannesburg - The eNCA newsroom is split over the decision taken by a line editor to remove footage of reporter Nontobeko Sibisi wearing a doek (scarf) off air.
In leaked emails, Sibisi is seen to challenge the decision and ask why the doek, which was worn for her Africa Day coverage, was deemed unprofessional.
“Colleagues, I write this email with a heavy heart, burdened by an unjustifiable injustice that happened to me in this newsroom.
“Last week, I put together a story on an African cross-border music collaboration of four musicians from Nigeria, Zimbabwe and South Africa...
“Now because for 9 seconds of an about three-minute piece, I appear wearing a doek - the story was taken off air without my knowledge,” Sibisi wrote.
She added that in many other instances, other reporters were allowed to report in attire that could be seen as unprofessional, and her doek was relevant to the story.
“I find this no doek’ guide line really fails to apply itself to the context and the cultural diversity of this country - ie An African story, on Africa Day, During Africa Month.
“Some of us have been half naked on TV, in PJs, gowns, ballet tutus, speedos, boxing gear all fitting to a particular context - yet somehow a doek was offensive enough during a significant and celebratory day and month in our continent. I personally find this is double standards.”
In the leaked email thread, her colleagues stand by her and say the action is unconstitutional. Some even threatened a doek protest.
Reporter Phakamile Hlubi said: “I’m appalled. This is completely unacceptable. eNCA’s style guide is unAfrican and in my view unconstitutional. It needs to be rewritten.
“You can’t tell me that in a country where respect for culture and religion is paramount in the constitution, an organisation can adopt a clothing policy that violates these rights.”
eNCA and eNews editor-in-chief Anton Harber commented on the matter yesterday on 702, saying: “There’s obviously some staff members who feel that our policy needs review, and we’ll do that. I haven’t got to the bottom of exactly what happened with that piece...
“The line manager who made the decision is out of the country, so I’ve been unable to query that particular decision, but I saw the piece, and I thought it was an excellent piece, and I thought the reporter did a great job.”
Harber added that he, together with the staff, would review the policy.