Andre Lotter vs The Citizen

Complainant: Andre Lotter

Lodged by: Andre Lotter

Article: NFP leaders are lazy, says party president – NFP: Calls on them to step down if they don’t want to work

Author of article: Clive Ndou

Date: 10 April 2015

Respondent: Steven Motale, editor of The Citizen

Complaint

Lötter is complaining about a story on page 6 in The Citizen of 30 March 2015, headlined NFP leaders are lazy, says party president – NFP: Calls on them to step down if they don’t want to work.

He complains that the story erroneously created the impression that the journalist had obtained his information from kaMagwaza-Msibi herself.

The text

The report, written by Clive Ndou, quoted kaMagwaza-Msibi as saying that she had launched a stinging attack on her party’s leaders, “accusing them of failing to keep the fledgling party afloat during her absence”.

The complaint in more detail

Lötter says that the NFP leader has been absent from her office for four months – which raises the likelihood that she is gravely ill (she has allegedly suffered a severe stroke). He argues that Ndou must have known this, since he regularly reports on the NFP. “[I] was thus surprised that [the reporter]all of a sudden publishes statements from the NFP President as if they were made by…herself.”

He adds that the statement was made by Canaan Mdletshe, a media liaison officer working in his office – who had made a false statement, purporting to be speaking on behalf of kaMagwaza-Msibi. He argues that Ndou should have doubted Mdletshe’s statement as the latter has a history of being untruthful when dealing with the press, and that he should have checked with kaMagwaza-Msibi whether or not she had issued the statement herself.

The Citizen’s response

Motale says Mdletshe is kaMagwaza-Msibi’s official spokesman, and his statement was issued on an official NFP letterhead.

My considerations

If an official spokesperson releases a media statement on behalf of his or her employer, the press has no reason to disbelieve it, or to try and establish the veracity of that statement. If Lötter has a problem with Mdletshe, he is free to deal with it internally.

Finding

The complaint is dismissed.

Appeal

Our Complaints Procedures lay down that within seven working days of receipt of this decision, either party may apply for leave to appeal to the Chairperson of the SA Press Appeals Panel, Judge Bernard Ngoepe, fully setting out the grounds of appeal. He can be contacted at Khanyim@ombudsman.org.za.

Johan Retief

Press Ombudsman

 

 

 

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