The SA National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) on Sunday condemned the death and rape threats made against senior eNCA reporter Lindsay Dentlinger.
The forum said the abuse, which has mostly been on online platforms, was uncalled for.
“The abuse of journalists, particularly women journalists, is rife on social media platforms.
“But we have seen the same kind of abuse at political events, rallies and protests marches where women journalists have been pushed, sexually harassed and subjected to verbal abuse,” Sanef said in a statement.
Dentlinger faced backlash on social media after a news clip of her asking the UDM’s Nqabayomzi Kwankwa to wear a mask during an interview while FF Plus leader Pieter Groenewald was interviewed mask-less.
Other clips have also emerged of her asking black politicians to put on their masks, but not doing the same with white politicians.
Sanef chairperson Sibusiso Ngalwa and a delegation met with eNCA managing editor John Bailey and MD Norman Munzhelele on Thursday after the racism claims.
“The meeting was cordial but frank, reflecting on the events of the past week and it also provided a moment of reflection for both parties.”
Sanef said they were informed by the broadcaster that they were holding a series of meetings with various organisations, including the SA Council of Churches, #NOTINMYNAME and political parties as a way of “meaningfully engaging society on the recent events”.
“As eNCA is going through this process, they should be given the space to do so.
“The broadcaster has also committed to making an announcement following the consultation process.”
Sanef said they committed to be more responsive and to reach out to the broadcaster when challenges arise in future.
“They [eNCA] also committed to work much closer with Sanef and become involved in its activities.”
Sanef called on South Africans to refrain from using cyberbullying and misogyny when calling out journalists on their mistakes.
“For media freedom to be upheld and protected, journalists cannot be attacked without facts or the full story by members of the public.
“We believe the media has a duty to contribute to healing the nation from our violent past that legislated racism.
“Equally, we all have a responsibility to fight against abuse and deliberate disinformation targeted at the media industry, to tarnish its image.”
Sanef also encouraged all media houses to ensure that their newsrooms undergo diversity training and racial literacy training.
The forum said they would organise a media ethics and credibility conference which will include panel discussions on race and racism in the media as well as diversity in newsrooms.
by Iavan Pijoos