SANEF rejects attempts by CSA to intimidate journalists

Cape Town - The South African National Editors' Forum (SANEF) has strongly rejected the attempts by Cricket South Africa (CSA) to intimidate journalists critical of the sport’s governing body by revoking their credentials to cover the game at the country’s major stadiums.

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In a press release on Monday, SANEF went as far as to call on CSA to apologise to the five journalists involved.

The release read:

SANEF believes CSA’s actions will have a chilling effect on the media’s ability to cover all aspects of cricket, not just what happens on the field of play, but also what happens behind closed doors where the sport is administered. CSA’s actions smack of bullying, are unacceptable and must be fiercely resisted in order to preserve the independence of the media and journalists’ ability to report without fear or favour.

On Sunday five journalists were informed that they were on a list circulated to all stadiums in the country, including Newlands in Cape Town and the Wanderers in Johannesburg, and that they would not be granted access to report on the Mzansi Super League.

Those five reporters are Stuart Hess (The Star), Ken Borland (The Citizen), Neil Manthorp (SABC), Firdose Moonda (ESPN Cricinfo) and Telford Vice (Cricbuzz.com).

Their accreditation was seemingly reinstated during the course of Sunday and some met with CSA officials at Newlands.

On Monday, Thabang Moroe, CSA’s chief executive, admitted on Talk Radio 702 that the journalists’ accreditation was revoked because the organisation was unhappy about their reporting on CSA and the sport.

Moroe’s statements are deeply concerning. Journalists must be allowed to do their job of holding those in power accountable without fear of intimidation or that they will be prevented from doing their job. Moroe and CSA have a duty to respect the independence of journalists without resorting to bully tactics. This is bound to have the opposite effect of what CSA and Moroe would want to achieve.

CSA, and sports bodies as well as sponsors in general, should refrain from trying to influence coverage through intimidation tactics. Accreditation should also not be unilaterally withdrawn without proper and transparent consultation with news organisations. SANEF encourages robust and thorough news coverage of sport, including the administration of cricket and other sports.

The way CSA has managed its conflict with the media is also concerning considering that South Africa will be hosting England for a much-anticipated Test series in less than a month. The media will not relent in exposing the failings of cricket administrators in preparation for what should be a major sporting event.

SANEF calls on CSA to apologise to the journalists involved, to ensure that they have access to stadiums and to respect the independence of the media. We will closely monitor the situation and won’t hesitate to take further steps.