Ms Kate Skinner
Executive Director of the South African National Editors’ Forum
The Media Mill
7 Quince Street
Milpark, Johannesburg

Dear Ms Skinner

Racism and ending discriminatory treatment in journalism: created opportunities

As executive director of the South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF), you are likely to be aware of the events of last week where a prominent broadcast journalist had asked me to wear a mask, whilst a white colleague was treated differently, as well as the subsequent social media outrage over the racist incident; the coverage in the media and even commentary by President Cyril Ramaphosa and the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation.

It certainly caused a stir in the public psyche and in many respects, showed us that there are still great inequalities in the way which some journalists, media houses, broadcasters and publications treat their interviewees, 26 years into South Africa’s democracy.

This thoughtless act of a journalist, again, violently stirred up all manner of racism in our nation and, we need to talk about discrimination (not only based on race, but also gender, sexual orientation – to name a few) almost as prescribed therapy i.e. on an on-going basis; in a safe space, employing helpful language; in an honest and constructive manner.

The United Democratic Movement believes that an opportunity has been created to enter into dialogue with the editors, senior journalists and journalism trainers and academics of South Africa, to discuss the current, deeply hurtful, situation and to find ways to remove the sting, and most importantly to find tools and mechanisms to end any form of discrimination in journalism and facilitate mutually productive interaction with political organisations.

I hope you and your colleagues would be positively disposed towards such a dialogue and would be willing to meet with the UDM at your earliest convenience. It might be useful to have an informal conversation ahead of time to discuss modalities, format and future concepts, to regularise and broaden such an interaction.

Looking forward to our constructive engagement.

Mr Nqabayomzi Kwankwa, MP
UDM Deputy President and Chief Whip