News / Africa

Critics Slam Plan to License South Africa Reporters

(File) Journalists report from outside the former South African President Nelson Mandela's house,  in Johannesburg, South Africa Monday, Sept. 2, 2013.
(File) Journalists report from outside the former South African President Nelson Mandela's house, in Johannesburg, South Africa Monday, Sept. 2, 2013.
Anita Powell

A plan to license reporters in South Africa is being condemned by journalist groups.

The new chief of South Africa’s public broadcaster, Hlaudi Motsoeneng, had already raised the ire of many South Africans for claiming to have a high school diploma, called a matric, which he does not.

Now he's further raised hackles by demanding that journalists in Africa’s most established and boisterous media landscape be licensed to practice.

Motsoeneng says media licensing is necessary because some journalists are “lazy,” make up facts, and are not objective. He did not give specific examples.

He also says South African journalists too often miss what he described as “good news” about the government’s efforts to improve the lives of South Africans. He says he will make a formal submission on this idea to the nation’s communications minister.

Unsurprisingly, the pronouncement has been met with met with derision by journalists, professionals who are paid to ask and say what most people are too afraid, or embarrassed, to ask and say.

South Africa’s National Editors’ Forum has condemned the proposal and criticized Motsoeneng for what it calls his “ignorance of journalistic practice."

On Tuesday, the International Committee to Protect Journalists joined the fray, saying South African journalists have earned the right to report freely after decades of oppression and censorship under apartheid.  

“We are very concerned that the head of the public broadcaster is thinking in terms of licensing journalists," said CPJ’s Africa Program Coordinator, Sue Valentine. "Because we believe that this not the job of the head of a public broadcaster, and also it totally takes South African press freedom, which is hard won, it takes it backwards.”

Valentine also says that Motsoeneng’s argument that doctors and lawyers are licensed should not apply to journalists. In fact, she says, his proposal flies in the face of South Africa’s constitution.

“The difference is that a doctor or a lawyer is a profession, whereas journalists deal with the issue of the fundamental human rights, of freedom of expression and the right of access to information," she said. "So the right of freedom of expression and access to information is at the heart of what journalists do, and for that reason journalists should not be licensed.”

Motsoeneng says he will stand firm by his proposal, whose fate, without a doubt, will be closely followed by journalists.  

You May Like

Ukraine Purges Interior Ministry Leadership With Pro-Russian Ties

Interior Minister Avakov says 91 people 'in positions of leadership' have been fired, including 8 generals found to have links to past pro-Moscow governments More

US Airlines Point to Additional Problems of any Ebola Travel Ban

Airline officials note that even under travel ban, they may not be able to determine where passenger set out from, as there are no direct flights from Liberia, Guinea or Sierra Leone More

Nigerian President to Seek Another Term

Goodluck Jonathan has faced intense criticism for failing to stop Boko Haram militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Not Again from: Canada
July 15, 2014 4:11 PM
Very sad sit, it is very similar to the accusations made against journalists in the previous regime even the words are similar, yes the apartheid regime, which persecuted jounalists for their lack of objectivity, and great bias... No one likes to be criticized, especially those in power. What is next?---> CENSORSHIP!

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid