The Johannesburg Press Club has voted the Right2Know (R2K) its newsmaker of the year. The organisation, with more than 30 000 members in over 400 organisations, had “displayed extraordinary courage, commitment and consistency in ensuring extensive news coverage of the issues it addressed during the course of the year and managed to maintain a lead position on national and international news agendas”.
Mixael de Kock, chairman of Johannesburg Press Club, told a breakfast hosted with the Wits Business School that the “R2K Coalition, like its name suggests, relentlessly pursued the public’s right to understand the full scope of the Protection of State Information Bill (POIB) – known as the Secrecy Bill – and how it would impact the media and every citizen of this country”.
De Kock said access to information and freedom of expression and association are hard-won rights enshrined in the South African constitution and were “continuously re-iterated, re-stated and re-ported by the Coalition”.
Public Protector Thuli Madonsela and her team received a special mention award. Past chairman of the JPC, Hopewell Radebe, said that in the history of the Johannesburg Press Club, it has happened only twice that members repeat the nomination for an individual or institution in two consecutive years. The first was President Nelson Mandela and now, Advocate Thuli Madonsela.
“After discussion the club leadership thought it best to bestow a special mention award since it has not awarded the same person twice before. This gesture, yet again, is an acknowledgement of the work of the Public Protector’s office which continues to attract the attention of the media and probably the admiration of the nation,” Radebe said.
Other nominees this year included the South African Olympic team, and Cosatu secretary general Zwelinzima Vavi, said JPC deputy chair, Amina Frense.. “We are all aware of several other high profile news events that happened in the country during this period. The Marikana tragedy was an incident where the battle for trade union membership played a major role and is continuing to generate considerable news coverage. Our members also nominated trade unionist and Cosatu president, Zwelinzima Vavi who was a strong contender for the award.”