Establish a Judicial Commission of Inquiry into Media Capture

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Judicial Commission of Inquiry into SA media capture and narrative manipulation

The South African media has a role to play in terms of Section 16 of the Constitution which states that, ”everyone has the right to freedom of expression, which includes freedom of the press and other media; freedom to receive or impart information or ideas; freedom of artistic creativity; and academic freedom and freedom of scientific”.

However, the media has veered off from its Constitutional obligation, as the fourth estate, to exercise balanced, fair, accurate and credible reporting as part of its responsibility of educating, informing and entertaining the public. 

As a consequence of the media veering away, we have observed countless cases of mainstream journalists behaving like political players, serving biased news and coverage, narrative fixing by some media “cabals”, doing positive spin for some and negative spin for others. The majority of the mainstream media conducts themselves as public relations tools for specific individuals, political formations and businesses. 

The danger with this conduct by the media is that they have destroyed careers and misled the public with their selective coverage, disinformation campaigns and targeted reporting against some individuals. They have also destroyed media plurality and manipulated public opinion to pursue ulterior motives. 

By manipulating content and fixing narratives, the mainstream media has taken away the public’s Constitutional right to freedom of expression - especially the right to formulate independent opinion, on national issues impacting them - which may result in the country’s leaders doing as they please without any accountability. 

We, therefore, call on the people to vote for a Judicial Commission of Inquiry into Media Capture with specific focus on narrative fixing by some “cabals”, political manipulation and disinformation campaigns against targeted individuals. This is aimed at bringing back fair, independent, credible and balanced reporting in the country.