On 14 June the Board hosted an interesting Editors Lunch, with the editors of our top two English medium daily newspapers, the Cape Times and Cape Argus.
Alide Dasnois, the first female executive editor of the Cape Times, and Gasant Abarder, the youngest ever executive editor of the Cape Argus, both gave outlines of the history of their publications, the challenges they face and the demographics of their target markets.
|Argus Editor, Gasant Abarder, BOD Director, David Jacobson, Cape Times Editor, Alide Dasnois and BOD Chairman, Li Boiskin|
The issue of media coverage on Israel was raised and both editors were aware of how sensitive they need to be to navigate a subject like Middle Eastern politics. They reported that they receive pressure from both sides, and attempt at all times to keep their papers balanced and fair.
“Freedom of expression is enshrined in our Constitution and Bill of Rights, but in our community certain sensitivities need to be considered within this framework,” Gasant Abarder noted.
Both editors added that they were open to being made aware when readers think they are not fulfilling their mandates, in order to keep the papers balanced.
The Cape Times and Cape Argus separate news from comment. The leader and opinion pages are for comment and if a reader feels that comment has been placed incorrectly in a news article, this should be brought to the editor’s attention.
The editors said that both of the papers encourage opinions and debate and aim for a balance of views, with space for all voices. The Cape Times and Cape Argus believed that both sides of story must be told with quality and accuracy, and strived to do so at all times.
To this end, Alide Dasnois added, “All unnamed sources must be checked” and that “single-source reporting is not acceptable”
When discussing complaints to the Press Ombudsman, Gasant Abarder explained, “The role of the Ombudsman is to take complaints of the abuse of the press code, adding, “The Ombudsman wants to receive more complaints than he is currently receiving.”
Li Boiskin expressed appreciation at the willingness of the editors to maintain contact and receive input from the Board and SAZF, and the lunch ended on a positive note, with new channels of communication having been opened between our cocommunity and our daily papers’ editors.