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Political volatility straining SA newsrooms: Report

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The Wits School of Journalism’s Head of Department, Professor Franz Kruger, says increased political pressure continues to strain South African newsrooms.

These are some of the findings contained in the Wits Journalism annual report entitled State of the Newsroom, which is a snapshot into the print and broadcast newsrooms of the country.

The latest report, covering 2015/16, looked at the challenges of producing quality and independent journalism in an age of the new editorial order.

On top of economic pressures and management interference, Kruger says there is also increased political pressure.

Last year, government threatened to create a body to regulate the news media.

Communications Minister Faith Muthambi was calling for the so called transformation of print media and suggested a statutory body such as the Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) to monitor the industry.

Kruger says newsrooms are operating under a volatile political environment.

“Jackson Mthembu in Parliament once again returning to the theme of the need of a parliamentary enquiry into the media, particularly the print media, and once again returning to the possibility of the media appeals tribunal. So the political pressure on the media continues and it will continue in this very difficult political climate. We can only expect that pressure to increase in the run up to the upcoming African National Congress conference.”

Despite this, the report states that there are positive signs of resilience, as journalists break important stories in the face of state surveillance and the risk to report from the frontlines.

[Source: SABC]
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