THE South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) has expressed its concern over the new rounds of retrenchments at various media houses, and said that it was leading to fewer journalists in newsrooms, and thus less diversity and plurality of voices in the country.
Sanef spokesperson Sbu Ngalwa said that of equal concern over the quality of journalism, was the matter concerning the mental wellness of journalists and other media staff.
“As the media, we take the role we play in our constitutional democracy seriously, hence the continued retrenchments of journalists should concern every citizen,” Ngalwa said.
Ngalwa said while Sanef did acknowledge that retrenchments were sometimes inevitable – as media houses struggle to survive – they call on media house owners to treat journalists fairly and with respect during this process.
“The spectre of retrenchments is not good news for the media industry, which will go on to affect the ability of the industry to carry out its journalistic work of being the eyes and ears of society,” Ngalwa said.
Ngalwa said that through initiatives such as the Community Media Digitisation project, Sanef was attempting to invest in seeing long-term solutions for media sustainability in addition to potential plans to set up a Journalism Sustainability Fund.
He said the project recognises the various challenges the community media faced in a tough economic climate, and aimed to empower them on how they can diversify their content distribution and revenue options, including digital platforms that can lead to growth.
Sanef said that the organisation works in conjunction with the SA Depression and Anxiety group in order to facilitate confidential consultations and counselling with professionals who are well-versed on issues and pressures that affect the media industry.
Sanef is a non-profit organisation whose members are editors, senior journalists, and journalism trainers from all areas of South African media and committed to championing the country’s hard-won freedom of expression and promoting quality, ethics, and diversity in the media.