The Press Council, the Press Ombud and the Appeals Panel are an independent co-regulatory mechanism set up by the print and online media to provide impartial, expeditious and cost-effective adjudication to settle disputes between newspapers, magazines and online publications, on the one hand, and members of the public, on the other, over the editorial content of publications.
The mechanism is based on two pillars: a commitment to freedom of expression, including freedom of the media, and to high standards in journalistic ethics and practice.
The Council has adopted the South African Press Code to guide journalists in their daily practice of gathering and distributing news and opinion and to guide the Press Ombud and the Appeals Panel to reach decisions on complaints from the public. Member publications subscribe to the Press Council's Code of Ethics and Conduct for SA Print and Online Media.
The Council is the custodian of this Code and may amend it from time to time. The print and online media industry believes in independent co-regulation involving exclusively representatives of the media and representatives of the public because it is the only way that the rights of freedom of expression and freedom of the press and other media guaranteed in the Constitution of the Republic can be truly exercised. Any other form of regulation would threaten the independence of the media and freedom of expression.
On Wednesday 03 May 2023, the 30th anniversary of World Press Freedom Day, the Press Council of South Africa launches the FAIR Press campaign.
The day serves as a means of raising awareness of the significance of a free press and freedom of expression.
“The role of the media in South Africa remains of crucial importance in defending our democracy. Despite socio-economic and political challenges in a rapidly evolving environment, newsrooms in the country continue to ensure Factual, Accountable, Independent and Responsible (FAIR) journalism. Good journalism defends democracy, and a FAIR press is more important than ever in present-day South Africa,” says Latiefa Mobara, Executive Director of the Press Council.
“Our media enjoys a high level of trust compared to other institutions according to the Afrobarometer, issued in 2021. We need to remain vigilant and maintain this trust to ensure that we do not see a return to the repressive tactics experienced during the apartheid era.
“Our over 400 subscriber publications across the country will be displaying the Press Council’s FAIR logo, reaffirming their commitment to adhere to the Press Code and their support of the Press Council’s independent mediation and adjudication processes that will hold them accountable should they breach the Press Code.”
In the following days and weeks, subscribing publications will carry in-house advertisements promoting the FAIR campaign.
The Press Council is also releasing an updated version of “Decoding the Code, sentence by sentence”, a book by former Press Ombud Johan Retief. It is an explanatory breakdown of the Press Code for journalists and members of the public – to make the Code more accessible and easier to understand. It is available at Decoding the Code booklet.
The Press Council’s Constituent members are in full support of the campaign.
The South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) says: “We know the importance of independent and unbiased media, equally, we should be aware of our responsibilities as members of the Fourth Estate.”
The Association of Independent Publishers (AIP) says it strongly supports the work of the Press Council and, in particular, its FAIR campaign. “Factual, accountable, independent and responsible information at the grassroots level is the lifeblood of local democracy.”
The Forum of Community Journalists (FCJ) says it is privileged to add its voice to the FAIR campaign in support of ethical journalism and in acknowledgement of the work done by the Press Council.
“Often the value of the community journalism is reinforced through the support and guidance received from the Press Council and office of the Ombuds. Our industry would not have been able to continue nurturing young journalistic talents in newsrooms across South African towns without this. It is often in these small-town newsrooms where journalists, just starting their career, first encounter and learn about the Press Code and Ombuds. The FCJ aims to ensure the wellbeing of community journalists, editors and photographers, making its support of this campaign necessary as both bodies serve with one goal in mind – ethical journalism.”
Issued by the Press Council of South Africa
Enquiries: Aasra Bramdeo: Communications Manager, Press Council of SA
Cell: 083 230 8857