Editors’ Forum Amends Its Constitution

THE Editors’ Forum of Namibia (EFN) has approved various amendments to its constitution, the Code of Ethics for the Namibian Media and the procedure for adjudicating disputes.

The forum’s members gathered at the Polytechnic of Namibia in Windhoek for their annual general meeting (AGM) last week Friday and endorsed various amendments, which include adding 11 points to the Code of Ethics pertaining to reporting on elections as part of a new section in the code.

These proposed additions, now officially part of the code, were discussed with and communicated to all media institutions in 2013.

The number of members of the Media Complaints Committee was reduced to eight – four from the media and the four from the public – unlike the previous that had 12.

Additionally, it was decided that a media institution will have a maximum of 21 days (after reminders) to respond to a complaint.

If this deadline is not met, the Media Ombudsman will make a binding ruling based on available evidence. Such decisions will, however, still be open to appeal.

The Media Ombudsman may fine a media institution that breaches the code three times with a maximum of up to N$10 000. Such funds will be ring-fenced for training needs as determined by the EFN.

The Secretary-General of the EFN, Dani Booysen, said 21 complaints were received last year, with an increase from eight complaints reported at the 2013 AGM.

Informantegrave is said to have recorded one complaint, which was dismissed, while Kairos (Rehoboth) and Insight magazine have recorded one complaint each, which are currently being settled and pending respectively.

The Namibian Sun has recorded six complaints, with one settled, two dismissed, two unresolved and one pending. Nampa and Republikein have recorded one complaint each, with Nampa’s case being settled and that of the Republikein dismissed, The Namibian has recorded two complaints, which are both pending. The Villager has recorded four complaints with one dismissed and the other three settled. Windhoek Observer has recorded three complaints, with two said to be settled and the other one pending. The Economist has recorded one complaint, which is still pending.

“A perceived lack of accuracy andor fairness remains the main ground for complaints, with editorials and web content for the first time also being the subject of complaints,” said Booysen.

He added that the EFN remains financially afloat, largely because of additional donations that were made from existing members, whereby last year, the Namibia Media Holdings donated an amount of N$50 000 and over the years the Namibia Media Trust, owning The Namibian, has donated an estimated amount of N$120 000.

“A lot of media institutions subscribe to the Code of Ethics and follow self regulation procedures set out when complaints are received against them, even though they refrain from paying annual membership fees. Such members thus make use of a service to which they do not financially contribute, which undermines the sustainability of adjudication procedures,” he said.

Booysen urged all media institutions to become members and pay their membership fees within the first quarter of each year.

He also encouraged the Namibian media institutions to not rest on its laurels concerning Namibia’s excellent global media rating but to aim for top media freedom ratings in Africa.

Source : The Namibian