By Andries van Zyl FCJ Limpopo member
The FCJ (Forum of Community Journalists) is an independent, non-profit, non-racial and voluntary organisation (registered as a Section 21 company) striving to promote and express the interests of all journalists employed on a permanent or freelance basis at regional community newspapers, magazines and online community publications in South Africa.
Representing hundreds of journalists from among the estimated 500 community newspapers across the country, the FCJ takes great pride in their duty to safeguard press freedom as the corner stone of any healthy democracy. The national management committee (Board of Directors) also comprises a group of volunteers.
Over the last 20 years, the FCJ’s main mandate remained the same: To provide training to its members through initiatives such as their regional seminars.
The other big initiative is the FCJ’s prestigious Annual Local Media Excellence Awards. This event is regarded as the “Oscars” of the South African community press industry and until 2014 it was known as the Sanlam/MDDA Community Media Awards.
The regional seminars include one for Gauteng, Mpumalanga and Limpopo (also called No Guts, No Glory), one for Eastern Cape and the Garden Route, one for North West and the Free State and one for the Western Cape.
Training is provided free of charge in the form of editorial talks and workshops by industry leaders and members of the country’s top tertiary institutions. Training seminars are scheduled over a one or two day period to accommodate newspapers who cannot afford to go without their journalists for a longer period of time.
This is especially the case with emerging publications and journalists from previously disadvantaged backgrounds. Being free, these seminars provide many a training opportunity which, under normal circumstances, would not have been possible or even affordable. The seminars are therefore extremely popular.
New Press Ombud Appointed
Pippa Green, a renowned and seasoned journalist and writer, has been appointed by the South African Press Council as the new Press Ombud.
This came after Johan Retief, who has occupied the post for nearly a decade, has resigned.
She will commence her term on April 1.
For the past five years Green has worked at the Research Project on Employment, Income Distribution and Inclusive Growth, a national independent research project investigating poverty, inequality and unemployment, based in the School of Economics at UCT.
Between 2009 and 2014, she was Head of the Journalism Program at the University of Pretoria.
Green, who has held senior editorial positions in both newspapers and radio news, has also worked as a trainer and part-time news editor for EyeWitness News in the Cape Talk office and was a member of the SABC Board during 2010 to 2013.
The three retired judges who are involved with the Press Council have all welcomed her appointment.
Justice Yvonne Mokgoro, chairperson of the appointment panel, said: “The Panel believes that as a respected media professional, Ms Green’s extensive news media and academic experience, her commitment to freedom of expression, media ethics and journalistic standards as well as her high profile in the industry will maintain the confidence of both the industry and the public in the credibility and authority of the Press Ombud.”
The chairperson of the Council, Judge Phillip Levinsohn, said that Green, who now steps into Retief’s shoes, has an awesome CV and congratulated the appointment panel for making this fine choice. “She is eminently qualified to do this job. It is a great pleasure to welcome her into the Press Council family.”
He added that Retief has made a significant contribution to the Press Council. “His expertise, erudition and notably brilliant adjudication and application of the Press Code when confronted with difficult issues will be missed.”
Judge Bernard Ngoepe, chairman of the Council’s, Appeals Panel, said Green’s vast experience “will inspire even more confidence in the institution and strengthen it even further”.
Green, who holds an MSc in Journalism from the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University in New York City, is the author ofChoice, not Fate: The Life and Times of Trevor Manuel(Penguin, 2008).
Her more recent work includes a series of podcasts calledHistory for the Future(in 2016), for Primedia, based on interviews with former Truth and Reconciliation commissioners, as well as several articles for publications such asBusiness Day,News24, theDaily Maverickand theNew Yorkeron some of the key economic challenges facing the country.
Most recently, she co-authored a paper,Taking stock of South African income inequalitywith economists Professors Murray Leibbrandt and Vimal Ranchhod for UNU-Wider.
She is currently an executive member of the Council for the Advancement of the SA Constitution (CASAC). Among her awards is a Nieman Fellowship at Harvard University (1999) and the Ferris Visiting Professor of Journalism at Princeton University (2006).
The Press Council, which has received 533 complaints in 2018, has recently accepted a shorter Press Code. A notable inclusion is that it has broadened the interpretation of what constitutes sexual violence,inter aliato include harassment and intimidation. It has also limited its understanding of hate speech to SA Constitution’s definition of the term, which addresses the intent to cause harm, incitement of violence, advocacy of hatred and propaganda for war (and excludes the causing of mere hurtful speech).
Contact: Pippa Green at 082 854 3716/ Latiefa Mobara at 076 826 3001
Press release compiled by Sanef. www.sanef.org.za
Forum Express 2017 Work Published
The official event newspaper of the FCJ Excellence Awards 2017, recognising the best in the business for their work produced during 2017.
Follow the link here.
Aplly for your FCJ Press Card today!
The Forum of Community Journalists (FCJ) now offers press cards to eligible journalists, photographers, editors and freelancers working for South African magazines and newspapers (both print and online publications).
What sets the FCJ Press Cards apart from the rest is the unique message printed on the back of the card for the South African Police Service. A quote from the SAPS’s Standing Order 156 will now always be at hand, and come in handy when journalists have to deal with stubborn or newbie police officials.
These cards are issued in English on the following conditions:
New Application: FCJ Members
When applying for your first press card, you will have to obtain an original application form from your region’s FCJ representative, which must be completed in full and signed by the editor of the publication you represent. Once your application has been signed off where applicable, you need to forward the original with your photograph. Your first press card will be issued to you free of charge thanks to our generous sponsors in Cape Town.