Independent Media on Thursday announced the appointment of Jovial Rantao as the company's Press Ombudsman.
Rantao is one of the most experienced editors in South Africa. He is the chairperson of The African Editors Forum and the Southern African Editors Forum. His editorships include African Independent, Sunday Independent and Sunday Tribune. Independent Media will announce the appointment of a new editor of African Independent.
Jovial Rantao is the chairperson of The African Editors Forum and the Southern African Editors Forum. Picture: Itumeleng English. Credit: Independent Media
“Independent Media has always maintained high standards of ethical journalism as guided by the Press Code. My new role enables the group to continue to produce high-quality journalism that holds up the vision that is in the Constitution, holds all those in power accountable and tells the full story of South Africa. The new role also protects Independent Media against legal loopholes brought about by changes to the Press Code. My role will be to ensure that our publications continue to adhere to these high standards and that complaints from members of the public are dealt with fairly and efficiently,” said Rantao.
Since the dissolution of the Print Media of South Africa at the end of the 2015, Independent Media has, by default, not been a member of the Press Council. However, while the company continued to use the services of the Press Council, it has been in ongoing engagements with the Press Council on various matters and, in particular, the reintroduction of the waiver clause which, to date, has not been resolved.
Independent Media has delayed its membership of the Press Council subject to the reintroduction of the waiver which the Press Council had intimated would be discussed at its annual general meeting at the end of last year. It is regrettable that, despite the company's strong insistence on the waiver, the Press Council, for various reasons, was unable to satisfy Independent Media's requirement for the waiver to be instituted.
The removal of the waiver by the Press Council has the unintended consequence of involving Independent Media and other media houses in excessively high legal costs which cannot be justified in the current economic climate in which media companies find themselves.
Independent Media's Chief of Staff, Zenariah Barends, has stated that Independent Media is committed to the process of self-regulation by the media and is vehemently opposed to any state regulation of the media or a government Media Appeals Tribunal. “It is important that, since Independent Media is no longer a member of the Press Council, the appointment of our own Press Ombudsman and the to-be-announced Independent Media Press Appeal Tribunal, which is to be headed by a retired judge/senior advocate with the participation of a media and public representative, will provide the required degree of regulation and independence to our readers and our publications,” she said.
With immediate effect, complaints relating to editorial content in the Independent Media publications (listed below) can be sent to Independent Media's Press Ombudsman via .
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