South Africa: The Paper Tiger Who Chewed Up Editorial Independence

analysis

The authors of a book about media mogul Iqbal Survé have discussed shortcomings in the current model of newspaper ownership, in which owners have undue say in what stories their publications tell.

"It's a pivotal moment for journalism," according to Paper Tiger authors Alide Dasnois and Chris Whitfield, who spoke about media owner Iqbal Survé's undue influence on newspapers in his group on Wednesday at the Cape Town Press Club, where current and retired media professionals gather to discuss the industry.

The two writers, both former editors at the Cape Times (owned by Survé's Independent Media group), highlighted multiple failings within the industry, ranging from diminishing editorial independence to poor attempts at staff racial transformation. The presentation discussed numerous shortcomings in the current model of newspaper ownership, in which owners have undue say in what stories their publications tell.

'Paper Tiger' authors Alide Dasnois, centre and Chris Whitfield, right, at the Cape Town Press Club. (Photo: supplied)

"There is a time-honoured tradition, which came from the UK, of editorial independence in which the management appoints the editor and that is their sole contribution," explained Whitfield. "Today, that model has been almost entirely abandoned by the Independent [Media group]."

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