Press Gallery Association

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Communications and Digital Technologies

15 September 1999
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Meeting Summary

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Meeting report

15 September 1999


Mr Barry Streek, representative from the Press Gallery Association (PGA) said that journalists in the Parliamentary Press Gallery are the most representative journalist group in South Africa. These journalists are reporting full time on the happenings in Parliament. Lack of understanding is the commonest problem in the relationship between the media and MPs. Mr Streek explained that the role and aims of the media are different from that of parliamentarians who want to create an impression and thereby gain support from the people. While the role of the media is to report and inform the people on what is happening in Parliament. These differing roles need to be understood.

Access to information is important and the political parties are not giving too much attention to this. Political parties must understand the importance of communication strategies. The journalists in the Parliamentary Press Gallery are from different provinces and MPs who want to address constituent issues should approach and use these journalists.

Questions from members

Response : There is no protocol, but journalists here will feel antagonistic if you go straight to the top, journalists at ground level must be utilised and it is important to keep in touch with the journalists here.

Mr F Maserumule (ANC) : The media is very selective as to what is newsworthy, now could you please explain what is newsworthy?

Response : This is really a complex issue and really depends on the circumstances and the story itself. It really depends on what happens and obviously it will differ from case to case.

Mr F Maserumule (ANC) : Why do channels from the same SABC television show different news?

Response : This is a complaint that we have heard of before. The argument is that there are different audiences at different times. This is something that has been researched and therefore the different news at different times. This is a concern that must be raised with the SABC.

Ms M Magazi (ANC) : What is the criteria to publicise whatever news? What is the role played by the media, are you neutral or biased?

Response : Journalists have different views, sometimes journalists would be objective regardless of their own view, but it is difficult. Journalists in Parliament want to maintain a good working relationship with MPs and in order to maintain that relationship would therefore not publicise incorrect information.

Dr Mulder (FF) : MPs and the Press Gallary need each other, but the responsibilities are different. My opinion is that that is where the misunderstanding starts.

Response : Yes, we do have different aims and roles and therefore some things are seen differently.

Dr Mulder (FF) : Are facilities at Parliament adequate to cater for the media?

Response : There are things that could obviously be much better. An example is that the supply of answers by MPs to questions from the Media takes too long. This is of important for two reasons. Firstly what is news today may not be news tomorrow and secondly journalists do have deadlines to meet.

A member asked whether the media covers both the National Assembly (NA) and National Council of Provinces (NCOP) committee meetings. Mr Streek said that the media covers both houses and that generally the NCOP process is a difficult process to follow. The reason that in most instances more emphasis is placed on the NA is because the NA tends to meet more regularly than NCOP and the Ministers brief the NA more regularly.

The Chairperson said that representatives from the Forum for Black Journalists, due to financial constraints, could not make it to the meeting. Arrangements will be made for the Forum to attend a briefing meeting.

The meeting was adjourned.

Chairperson : What is the protocol around talking to the newsroom where you are from, instead of approaching journalists in the Parliamentary Press Gallery?



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