The SA National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) will seek an urgent meeting with the EFF leadership to discuss the party’s threats to journalists working for the Gupta family’s media companies.
On Sunday, Sanef executive director Mathatha Tsedu said the council was also concerned about “direct proprietal and managerial interference in editorial decision-making processes” and had decided on further steps in this regard. He said it had been agreed Sanef should “urgently” meet the EFF leadership to “discuss the implications of their decision to threaten journalists from media outlets owned by the Gupta family”.
On February 4, EFF leader Julius Malema warned that Gupta-owned ANN7 TV news channel and The New Age newspaper were not welcome at EFF events. “Gupta must leave the country. We [are] tired [of] talking about the Guptas. We’re going to take practical action. Gupta media must no longer come to EFF events. We don’t want to see The New Age and ANN7. We cannot guarantee the safety of those printing The New Age and ANN7,” Malema said.
The Guptas reportedly have a close relationship with President Jacob Zuma and other senior ANC and government members.Tsedu said Sanef had deliberated extensively on “the changing media landscape, the commercial and other pressures, and their implications on editorial independence. The consequences of such pressures have manifested themselves … indirectly through the blurring of the lines between advertising and editorial.
This conflictual and strained relationship between editors and proprietors has resulted in the resignation of a number of editors over the past two years – an untenable situation that threatens the very essence of media freedom”. In view of these “serious threats”, the council would commission research on the new media landscape. Sanef has, meanwhile, met the heads of the Electoral Commission of SA and it was agreed there was a need for urgent engagement with political parties about protecting journalists.