StellenboschNews.com adheres to the Press Code set out by the The Press Council of South Africa as set out below. We are committed to news that is true, fair and balanced.
If we do not keep to this commitment you can contact the Press Council telephonically at: +27 11 484 3612 or mail Khanyi Mndaweni, Case Study Officer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Latest Press Code
(Effective from January 1, 2020)
The Press Code of Ethics and Conduct for South African Print and Online Media
Section 16 of the Bill of Rights sets out that:
b) Freedom to receive and impart information or ideas;
c) Freedom of artistic creativity; and
d) Academic freedom and freedom of scientific research.
The right in subsection (1) does not extend to:
a) Propaganda for war;
b) Incitement of imminent violence; or
c) Advocacy of hatred that is based on race, ethnicity, gender or religion, and that constitutes incitement to cause harm.
The media strive to hold these rights in trust for the country’s citizens; and they are subject to the same rights and duties as the individual. Everyone has the duty to defend and further these rights, in recognition of the struggles that created them: the media, the public and government, who all make up the democratic state.
The media’s work is guided at all times by the public interest, understood to describe information of legitimate interest or importance to citizens.
Application of the Press Code
all content that is published in a printed edition;
all content that is published on a website operated by a member;
all content that is published on a social media account operated by a member; and
all content that is created by a member and published on any platform that is available on the world wide web (i.e. online) or in digital format.
2. All content published by a member through one or more of the platforms mentioned in 1 must comply with the Code, regardless of whether the content is in written, video, audio, pictorial or any other form.
4. Members must develop their own social media policies, guided by this Code.
Chapter 1: MEDIA-GENERATED CONTENT AND ACTIVITIES
1.1 take care to report news truthfully, accurately and fairly;
1.3 present only what may reasonably be true as fact; opinions, allegations, rumours or suppositions shall be presented clearly as such;
1.5 use personal information for journalistic purposes only;
1.7 verify the accuracy of doubtful information, if practicable; if not, this shall be stated;
1.9 state where a report is based on limited information, and supplement it once new information becomes available;
1.11 prominently indicate when content that was published online has been amended or an apology or retraction published. The original content may continue to remain online but a link to the amendment, retraction or apology must be included in every version of the content which remains available online;
1.13 not plagiarise.
The media shall:
2.2 not accept any benefit which may influence coverage;
2.4 keep editorial material clearly distinct from advertising and sponsored events.
The media shall:
3.2 afford special weight to South African cultural customs concerning the protection of privacy and dignity of people who are bereaved and their respect for those who have passed away, as well as concerning children, the aged and the physically and mentally disabled;
3.3.1. the facts reported are true or substantially true; or
3.3.3. the reportage amounts to a fair and accurate report of court proceedings, Parliamentary proceedings or the proceedings of any quasi-judicial tribunal or forum; or
3.3.5. the content was, or formed part of, an accurate and impartial account of a dispute to which the complainant was a party;
* The World Health Organisation inter alia defines sexual violence as follows: “Sexual violence encompasses acts that range from verbal harassment to forced penetration, and an array of types of coercion, from social pressure and intimidation to physical force…”
The media shall:
4.2 ensure that the personal information they gather is accurate, reasonably complete and up to date;
4.4 only disclose sufficient personal information to identify the person being reported on as some information, such as addresses, may enable others to intrude on their privacy and safety; and
* “Personal information” is defined as follows in Section 1 of the Protection of Personal Information Act 4 of 2013: ‘‘Personal information’’ means information relating to an identifiable, living, natural person, and where it is applicable, an identifiable, existing juristic person, including, but not limited to (a) information relating to the race, gender, sex, pregnancy, marital status, national, ethnic or social origin, colour, sexual orientation, age, physical or mental health, well-being, disability, religion, conscience, belief, culture, language and birth of the person; (b) information relating to the education or the medical, financial, criminal or employment history of the person; (c) any identifying number, symbol, e-mail address, physical address, telephone number, location information, online identifier or other particular assignment to the person; (d) the biometric information of the person; (e) the personal opinions, views or preferences of the person; (f) correspondence sent by the person that is implicitly or explicitly of a private or confidential nature or further correspondence that would reveal the contents of the original correspondence; (g) the views or opinions of another individual about the person; and (h) the name of the person if it appears with other personal information relating to the person or if the disclosure of the name itself would reveal information about the person.
The media shall:
5.2 balance their right and duty to report and comment on all matters of legitimate public interest against the obligation not to publish material that amounts to propaganda for war, incitement of imminent violence or hate speech – that is, advocacy of hatred that is based on race, ethnicity, gender or religion, and that constitutes incitement to cause harm.
The media may strongly advocate their own views on controversial topics, provided that they clearly distinguish between fact and opinion, and not misrepresent or suppress or distort relevant facts.
7.1 The media shall be entitled to comment upon or criticise any actions or events of public interest; and
8.1 exercise exceptional care and consideration when reporting about children**. If there is any chance that coverage might cause harm of any kind to a child, he or she shall not be interviewed, photographed or identified without the consent of a legal guardian or of a similarly responsible adult and the child (taking into consideration the evolving capacity of the child); and a public interest is evident;
8.3 not identify children who have been victims of abuse or exploitation, or who have been charged with or convicted of a crime, without the consent of their legal guardians (or a similarly responsible adult) and the child (taking into consideration the evolving capacity of the child), a public interest is evident and it is in the best interests of the child.
** A “child” is a person under the age of 18 years.
9. Violence, Graphic Content
9.1 exercise due care and responsibility when presenting brutality, violence and suffering;
9.3 avoid content which depicts violent crime or other violence or explicit sex, unless the public interest dictates otherwise – in which case a prominently displayed warning must indicate that such content is graphic and inappropriate for certain audiences such as children
10.1 Headlines, captions to pictures and posters shall not mislead the public and shall give a reasonable reflection of the contents of the report or picture in question; and
11. Confidential and Anonymous Sources
11.1 protect confidential sources of information – the protection of sources is a basic principle in a democratic and free society;
11.3 not publish information that constitutes a breach of confidence, unless the public interest dictates otherwise.
The media shall avoid shady journalism in which informants are paid to induce them to give the information, particularly when they are criminals – except where the material concerned ought to be published in the public interest and the payment is necessary for this to be done.
13.1 are not obliged to moderate all user-generated content (UGC) in advance;
13.3 may remove any UGC or user profile in accordance with their policy;
13.4.1 authorisation process, if any, which would-be users must follow, as well as any terms, conditions and indemnity clauses during such registration process;
13.4.3 manner in which the public may inform them of prohibited content;
13.6 should inform the public that UGC is posted directly by users, and does not necessarily reflect their views;
13.8 shall particularly carefully monitor online forums directed at children.
Material constitutes prohibited content if it is expressly not allowed in a member’s UGC Policy, and in Section 5.2 of this Code (which refers to Section 16 of the Bill of Rights, and overrules anything to the contrary contained in a UGC policy).
15.1 It is a defence for the media to show that they did not author or edit the content complained of;
15.2.1 remove the relevant UGC as soon as possible and notify the complainant accordingly; or
* This section applies where a complaint is brought against a member in respect of comments and content posted by users on all platforms in controls and on which it distributes its content.