Jun 122013

The Press Regulation and Accountability Conference will be held on the 30th of August 2013 at the UNISA main campus in Muckleneuk, Pretoria, Gauteng.


In the wake of the UK Leveson enquiry, debates surrounding the regulation of the press and journalistic responsibility have come to the fore on a global stage. This conference aims to address what these developments mean within an African context. It will be hosted jointly by the School of Media and Journalism Studies at Rhodes University, Grahamstown and the Department of Communication Science at UNISA, Pretoria, as part of the collaborative – Media Policy and Democracy Project.

Questions of media accountability and the regulation of the press, have received much attention recently, in South Africa and around the globe.

These debates have raised a number of questions relating to the South African press accountability system including  the level of public trust in the press, the effectiveness of press self-regulation, a perceived lack of quality journalism and a decrease in journalistic ethics, concerns regarding regulation of the press and fears that in South Africa, the freedom of the press are under threat.

The UK phone hacking scandal of have brought to the fore global debates about a decrease in journalistic quality and a lack of journalistic ethics. Critics have argued that the individual’s right to human dignity must be adequately safeguarded from unnecessary damage in the press. A balance should be struck between the right to dignity and the rights of freedom of expression. However, parallel debates continue which are concerned with a marked decline on research indices in global press freedom. Africa registers disappointingly and consistently small press freedom ratings while in many places,  journalists face intimidating barriers to freedom of speech and inhibiting pressure from authorities, regulators and governments.

The main focus of this forum is the following question:

How can the press be best regulated in a way which both improves standards of journalism and holds the press satisfactorily accountable, whilst also safeguarding the freedom of the press from government interference, censorship and self-censorship?

This colloquium will include a variety of the foremost thinkers on press accountability and monitoring, Providing  a platform for the discussion of the various complexities and challenges surrounding the regulation of the press in an emerging democracy. Key media policy makers, will be invited to this event, so that discussions at this forum can both help to inform policy decision makers, as well as feed directly into the expected upcoming discussions on a South African Media Appeals Tribunal.

The key concepts and themes for discussion at this conference are:

  • Normative theories of the press and possible revisions of these perspectives
  • The role(s) and responsibility of the press in an emerging democracy
  • Public trust in the press and transparency in news organisations
  • Press freedom in Africa: a continental perspective
  • Journalistic and editorial ethics and codes of ethics
  • The relationship of the press to government and other centres of power
  • Press freedom and freedom of expression
  • Press accountability and systems of regulation – what is best practice?
  • The global impact of the UK Leveson investigation and related events

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Image Source: Ernst Moeksis