Media Tuesday Bulletin: Press Council vs courts?; Media transformation; And, the Budget Speech

Posted: 26 February 2013 | News - Newsletter | Categories: Democracy and Governance, Media Freedom and Performance

And here’s what we have for you this Media Tuesday:

  • Do government officials have no trust in the Press Council?
  • Is SA media serious about transformation?
  • Where is the hype about the Budget Speech?

Government officials prefer courts than press council!

The Member of Executive Council (MEC) for the Department of Cooperative Governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs (CoGHSTA) in Limpopo Province, Clifford Motsepe, is suing the City Press newspaper for R1.2-million for defamation. This follows allegations that he tried to bribe one of the newspaper’s journalists.

The allegations were made in a City Press article titled “MEC offers cash to City Press reporters”, which talks about how the MEC offered cash to the reporter Sipho Masondo, in what appeared to be an attempted act of bribery.

According to City Press, the MEC is suing the newspaper for R1.2-million for defamation - demanding R300 000 from Masondo (the reporter), R400 000 from the paper’s editor-in-chief, Ferial Haffajee and R500 000 from the owners of the newspaper, Media24.

Late last year, the executive mayor of Polokwane Freddy Greaver reached a settlement with City Press over his case of defamation against the newspaper. Greaver was suing City Press for R15-million over an illustration published by the newspaper the previous year headlined “Meet the Limpopo mafia”.

In that illustration, Greaver was mentioned as part of a network of powerful and influential people said to be connected to former ANC Youth League president, Julius Malema. The settlement, reached in the Limpopo High Court in Polokwane, ordered the newspaper to apologise and pay a R100 000to Greaver, and to pay for the legal costs incurred.

Both  Greaver’s and Clifford Motsepe’s cases point to government officials taking the media to court for publishing something that they (government officials) are not happy about.

If that is the case, why don’t government officials lodge their complaints with the Press Council, instead of opting for the courts? Seeing both cases involve government officials, is this an indication of a government that has no trust whatsoever in the Press Council and its process? Or is it an attempt to scare the media by going the legal route and suing for large sums of money?

Tell us what you think via our Facebook and Twitter pages...

Is SA print media ready to transform?

The Print and Digital Media Transformation Hearings are currently underway, and have seen submissions by the likes of Media Monitoring Africa, among others. Not long after the process began, we heard the news about Caxton pulling out of the Print and Digital Media Transformation Task Team (PDMTTT).

Following the news, concerns were raised about how serious print media took the transformation issue. The Director of Media Monitoring Africa (MMA), William Bird, even urged print media to take the transformation task team seriously. Bird told The Media Online:

The print media should be going at this full ball. Talking about transformation. Getting involved. Because if this doesn’t work, the print media will be inviting a transformation charter.”

Bird’s words have fallen on deaf ears, it would seem. News just in is that Times Media Group (TMG) has joined its peers Caxton and withdrew from the PDMTTT hearings.

Just as we asked in this very bulletin earlier this month following Caxton’s withdrawal from the hearings, the questions still remain: Is it safe to say that SA’s print media looks set to and is ready to go through some transformation processes? Is print media taking the hearings seriously?

Facebook and Tweet us your views on this issue.

Is there enough hype around the budget speech?

President Jacob Zuma gave the State of the Nation Address (SONA) 2013 on Valentine’s Day (14 February 2013). Just as the hype around the address was probably gaining momentum, the Oscar Pistorius story broke and drowned any chance of the SONA grabbing the headlines and becoming the trending topic across social networks.

Okay, the SONA did trend but not long enough given the effects and implications it has on the country and its citizens’ lives. The SONA has come, got some coverage, and then gone!

Over the past few days it was the Premiers of various provinces either giving their State of the Province Addresses (SOPA) or preparing for them. And now it is the Minister of Finance, Pravin Ghordan’s turn to speak to the nation as he delivers his budget speech tomorrow.

Was there enough media coverage of the State of the Province Addresses? Did you even know about such addresses, or that they even exist? Is there much fanfare around the budget speech? Or has the media been preoccupied by the Oscar story, sending big news teams to camp outside the court for Oscar’s bail hearing, that the SONA and the SOPAs (and even the Budget Speech, maybe) have been given the backseat?

Send us your view on Facebook and Twitter. And while at it, tell us what you think will be in the Budget Speech tomorrow; or what you’d like Pravin to talk about.