Spokesperson John Nkuna says Cope is impressed with the state of the South African media. “You cannot call a country civilised without freedom of the press. The press is there to initiate debate, without the press we would not be a democracy. So far we have had a lot of good experiences with the media and feel they are doing their jobs, such as educating the public about corruption within government.”
He denies claims that the SABC has favoured Cope in its coverage leading up to the 2009 elections. “We can’t say anyone is biased. Today the ANC will get coverage, tomorrow we will. I think it has been fair. However, there are still elements of intimidation within the media.”
Whilst unwilling to elaborate, he suggested that journalists require assistance in dealing with political issues. “We need to assist the media to become more independent and objective. If given the opportunity to do so, I’m sure it will improve even more.”
Whilst Nkuna says the media is fulfilling its role, he says challenges remain. “Some journalists cannot practise their profession freely. They still feel that they cannot say certain things about politicians and this proves problematic. They need the support of politicians. We trust that the media consider South Africa as belonging to them and thus, regard themselves as role players in building our country.”
Cope’s stance on media appears to differ significantly from that of the ANC, which supports the establishment of a Media Appeals Tribunal. Spokesperson Jessie Duarte target=”_blank” href=”/themedia/view/themedia/en/page1351?oid=16222&sn=Detail”warned!_LT_/a media organisations hostile to the ANC that they would be in “deep trouble”.
“We can live with critical but definitely not with hostile. We will fight and we will defend ourselves against any attack,” said Duarte at an event on October 15 to commemorate Black Wednesday.
Duarte added that embedded journalism is dangerous as it distorts the truth and does not do anybody any good. “We don’t want it near us because it doesn’t tell the truth and hides the real facts.”