Independent Newspapers Special Projects Division (advertorial division), recently sent a letter soliciting advertising support for an ANC Centenary celebration special feature advertorial, which caused a stir within the corridors of opposition. DA leader Helen Zille wasted to time in trying to tangle issues around constitutionality and the press code by accusing Independent Newspapers of “feeding the hand that bites you”.
Zille misleads readers by highlighting amongst others, the usage of the Independent Newspapers logo alongside that of an ANC logo. She falls short of noting that the Independent logo is specific to the advertorial division (Special Division) and furthermore, that the ANC logo in this regard relates to celebration of 100 years of selfless struggle (in short signifies its Centenary). Personally, I doubt that the logo or special feature would have been an issue if an image of former President Nelson Mandela was used. The response from the DA leader would have been totally opposite. The DA, strangely, finds it suitable for their role as opposition to fragment that which is belongs to the ANC to pursue their political interests, only when it’s to their benefit.
Zille then implodes the type of emotional and political rollercoaster associated with the DA and AfriForum when it comes to any issues of historical importance and relevance to the ANC’s struggle for the liberation of all South Africans. This is an action that seeks to suggest non-existence, or non importance, of the role of the ANC over the past 100 years.
She boldly asks: “Who is the Independent Group to confidently predict that the ANC will be around for the next 100 years – and why are they promoting the strategy?” and further highlights ANC chairperson’s supporting letter that accompanied the advertising appeal. She falls short of accusing Independent Newspapers as a corruptee in the feature, which is driven merely by commercial interests, and which will be supported by ANC-run government departments.
She views this as one-sided endorsement by a newspaper of a political party and a violation of the Press Code. If Zille believes the commercial interests of the newspapers have led to this one party endorsement, perhaps DA ought to vote with the ANC on the Media Appeals Tribunal to address this type of endorsement.
This is truly hypocritical of the DA, as I have no doubt that Independent Newspapers has on a number of occasions predicted the fall of the ruling party within 20 years of political liberation. Ironically I, for one, would not be surprised that in their media analysis, the DA would find that the Independent Group has mentioned the DA, second only to Julius Malema, than any other party.
It would be necessary at this point to ask Zille if this emotional rollercoaster is not tantamount to “biting the hand that feeds you” and further, if she understands fully the difference between advertorial and editorial?
I agree with Zille though on one thing though: “The press shall not allow commercial, political, personal or other non-professional considerations to influence or slant reporting. Conflicts of interest must be avoided, as well as arrangements or practices that could lead to audiences to doubt the press independence or professionalism”.
Could this mean that post-advertorial, the DA will perhaps consider changing their strategy of trying to use the press for political, personal and non-professional considerations to influence or slant reporting of the ANC?
It is necessary for Zille, as a matter of urgency, to familiarise herself with the difference between editorial and advertorial news. And while at it, she ought to let her party take FCFP ad, in support of the liberties her party enjoys based on the selfless struggle that did not exclude her political preference and spearheaded by the ANC.
After all, this is merely an advertorial that will allow ANC to boast of their existence for the past 100 years, a privilege reserved for a very few entities as all opposition have faded along the way.
Follow Tshepo Moletsane on Twitter @mobisoul
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