Media Appeals Tribunal
Outside the Port Elizabeth city hall is a sculpture telling how the Portuguese spent 300 years searching for the elusive Prester John, a mythical Christian king. Inside, the hall, in the basement, a handful of people debated this Monday in search of the perfect system for press self-regulation. Hopefully, a less futile quest!
With a myriad experiences out there, what can South Africa learn in regard to reform (or replacing) the press self-regulatory system?
In order to avoid ad hoc or opportunistic borrowing, I devised a system. It's a tripartite test that focuses on (a) Matching our situ to a source context and purpose, (b) Abstracting a general model, and (c) Destination fitness analysis. (or M.A.D if you want an easy acronym).
It was a useful exercise that informed my submission to the Press Council's self review.
The SA Press Council has called for submissions as part of its review. So I started writing... and writing. Almost 4000 words and nine pages later, there are more than a couple of ideas about how press self-regulation can be strengthened. In a nutshell:
1. Change the name of the whole institution to "Press Accountability South Africa" (PASA).
2. Create separate bodies for adjudication and appeals.
3. Provide a Public Advocate to assist complainants, and an Advocacy Officer to drive public awareness.