September 23, 2014

Attend the Journalism Dialogues, Pretoria: Has the media treated Jacob Zuma fairly?


Does the media ignore the plight of the poor?

journalism-dialogues-september-east london

The Journalism Dialogues come to East London

The Frere Hospital baby deaths scandal raised awareness about the huge challenges faced by under-serviced parts of the country such as the Eastern Cape.

What is the role of the media in highlighting the stories affecting the poor?

Do media focus on the affluent in a bid to increase advertising profits?

Do media widen the information gap between the rich and the poor?

What is the ideal balance between elite / business interests and poor / social interests?

Don’t miss this crucial public debate with the Press Ombudsman Mr Joe Thloloe; Daily Dispatch Editor Phylicia Oppelt; Grocott’s Mail Editor Steven Lang and regional leaders. Debate this and more at the Journalism Dialogue to be held in East London this month.

Date:Tuesday 30 September

Time: 5.30pm – 7.30pm

Place: Fusion House, No 36 Darlington Road, East London.

Parking is available. Refreshments are provided.

Organised by frayintermedia in partnership with the Mail&Guardian as well as local media houses in the regions the debates are held, the monthly Journalism Dialogues have got journalists, policy makers and the public talking about journalism in South Africa, a critical pillar of our democratic society. The main aims of the Dialogues are to foster a common understanding of the role journalism plays, to examine how journalists and the media operate and to provide a forum for journalists to discuss how they practice their craft in a transforming and developing country.

Contact person: Avile Nkushubana. To RSVP please contact Avile on 011 341 0767 or email

Click here for transcriptions of previous Journalism Dialogues.

Opinion does not include discrimination


The media has no right to discriminate and remove dignity from its subjects, even if the Constitution does ensure them the right to an opinion.

This was the conclusion of the sixth frayintermedia Mail&Guardian Journalism Dialogues that took place in Cape Town in August.

Taking its cue from Jon Qwelane’s controversial opinion piece on homosexuality the Journalism Dialogues under the topic: When does free speech in the media become hate speech thrashed out the do’s and don’ts of opinion pieces.

Whilst panelist Brendan Boyle, Business Times Associate Editor, said the media had the right to an opinion, panelist Dr. Yvette Abrahams, Commissioner with the Commission on Gender Equality, said she was shocked by some of these opinions expressed in South African media.

Boyle’s perspective on the issue of media license and freedom of the media to print opinion was that journalists had the right to an opinion – enshrined in the Constitution He noted, however, that certain comments often existed merely to sell newspapers and gain a reaction from the public.

Facilitator of the Dialogues, Press Ombudsman Joe Thloloe, said whilst this was true, journalists did not have the right to be discriminatory as was the case in the Qwelane piece.

According to Thloloe, Qwelane’s comments were in breech of the Journalism Code of Conduct.

Thloloe said that the piece was seen to discriminate against homosexuals and that it removed dignity from that preferred sexual orientation. The right to opinion did not allow for this.

Dr. Abrahams said she was often shocked by the South African media – not just by the opinions expressed, but also in the very chauvinistic way in which reporting was taking place in the country more than a decade after democracy had been declared.

She said that according to research, only 7% of sources quoted in newspapers were female and that the media was largely to blame for the public notion that women were not equal to men.

Vanessa Ludwig, Director of the Triangle Project and also a panelist, agreed with Abrahams that the media had significant strides to make in terms of fair reportage.

“You’ve got to examine the medium used to create conversation. It does not always work to just throw in a statement and let havoc reign,” she said in reference to Qwelane’s comments that homosexuals were abnormal to society.

Dr. Abrahams said it was important for the media to remember that whilst it did have a duty to report the truth, that dignity should be upheld as well.

Tabloid newspapers were heavily criticised for removing dignity from the subjects in the articles printed.

There was a comment from the audience that daily and weekly newspapers could also be found to be lacking in awarding dignity to the subjects written about.

Said Dr. Abrahams: “Why is it that we read about the young black lesbian, who was raped in Khayalitsha?”

Her comment questioned the media’s unequal focus of attention on homosexuals.

Her recommendation was for renewed commitment from the media to ensure they were not being gender biased in their reportage.

In conclusion Ludwig said that she wanted to see more editors controlling the ways in which journalists were allowed to get away with blatant stereotypes and unfair comment.