The South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) is concerned by the attempted hijacking and robbery of an SABC news crew on Tuesday covering a story in Alexandra Township north of Johannesburg. The crew was robbed of its broadcast equipment.
This is the second incident in the last few weeks where SABC journalists have been attacked and harassed while covering stories in the township. According to the journalists affected, community members stood by while the incident unfolded.
Sanef believes that this is a worrying trend where journalists are attacked more frequently – online and in the real world – and citizens don’t feel the need to protect them.
“We believe that there is an urgent need to educate leaders in business, government, civil society etc. and most importantly members of the public about the important role played by journalists in society.
Journalists need to cover stories across the country so that people are informed and educated – and during an election period, journalists have the critical role of informing citizens about political party manifestos, party promises and also, of course, the actual delivery (and non-delivery) on the ground.
If journalists are regularly attacked and intimidated it will have a chilling effect on their ability to cover stories and to ask the hard questions about service delivery,” says Sanef in a statement.
With the New York-based Committee for the Protection of Journalists, Sanef has put together a safety toolkit for journalists. “We urge journalists to access this toolkit on the Sanef website at https://cpj.org/2019/02/south-africa-election-journalist-safety-kit.php.
We urge editors to protect their journalists when entering conflict areas and to offer support and trauma counselling. Journalists are encouraged to log on to the Sanef website to document cases of abuse and harassment so that we can track trends and assist where possible,” the statement adds.
Sanef also encourages journalists to log onto the Independent Electoral Commission’s and Media Monitoring Africa’s REAL411 misinformation/disinformation website in cases of online harassment – real411.org.
Sanef is embarking shortly on a media campaign around the importance of the media in elections and the protection of journalists.
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