Independent Newspapers will be running a special feature on the ANC centenary in January 2012 that will be carried in six of its newspapers. It sent out letters to prospective advertisers inviting them to advertise.
Newspapers run these special features to maximise revenue, that’s where it ends. That the publicity from the feature benefits whoever is being featured is secondary to the newspaper — nobody takes this to be an endorsement of such an organisation by the newspaper. Everyone knows it’s paid advertising and this arrangement has been in practice for years, without any complaints.
For DA leader Helen Zille to attack Independent Newspapers for taking advantage of a commercial opportunity is horrifying to say the least.
Zille seems to think the media, Independent Newspapers in this instance, should not carry ANC material, even paid-for-material because in her view the ANC is trying to suppress a free press. Zille, are you not advocating censorship yourself?
Newspapers are independent to carry stories as they see fit and publish advertising as they see fit. It is not for Zille, or anyone else to dictate to the newspapers. She is just so used to the media carrying glossy endorsements of her own party and always against the ANC. If she can accept that then she must accept that the opposite can occur. As long as it’s all done within the rule of law.
This must be a very painful revelation for Zille and the DA — that the media is not at all loyal to her and her agenda but that they are more loyal to profits.
This is the same Zille who cried foul play (correctly so) when Cabinet spokesperson Jimmy Manyi suggested the government might not in future feel obliged to advertise in newspapers that only carry negative stories about the government. What Zille is saying now is the same as what Manyi was saying. You just can’t censor someone simply because you disagree with them.
She even goes as far as lambasting Independent Newspapers for suggesting in the invitation they sent to potential advertisers that the ANC might go for another 100 years. Independent Newspapers never claimed this to be a fact and Zille cannot claim to know that the ANC will not be around for another 100 years.
It is of course understandable that she would not like to see such publicity for the ruling party but she needs to find credible and fair ways to counter and limit such publicity otherwise she runs the risk of her supporters not seeing the difference between her and the people she opposes.
Her complaint to the press ombud is a waste of time that could be better used to look into valid complaints that impact people’s lives, but she has the right to file the complaint if she feels aggrieved. It’s a right earned through the blood of my brothers and sisters (literally) and it’s a right I myself will die to make sure she continues to have.