SA media should look to Gazzetta: iLIVE
Gazzetta dello Sport, a top Italian daily newspaper, has apologised for printing a cartoon portraying Mario Balotelli, an Italian soccer player of Ghanaian descent, as King Kong ("Newspaper apologises to Balotelli", June 28).
Balotelli had already suffered racist monkey chants from fans of rival teams several times in Italy before his move to the English Premier League, where he currently plays for reigning champions Manchester City. The paper made two apologies voluntarily on the basis of complaints received from readers.
The first apology Gazzetta made was for its error of judgment in printing the cartoon in the first place. The second was more than an apology because the paper sharply criticised its own cartoonist by saying: "We can honestly say it is not one of the best efforts by our great cartoonist."
The Italian paper did not make excuses of censorship or danger to freedom of the press. In South Africa, no newspaper respects the complaints of its readers. In fact, newspapers make an apology only when faced with legal action or if they are forced to do so by the ombudsman.
The South African National Editors' Forum would have already jumped to the defence of the newspaper if it happened here. What Gazzetta demonstrated, however, is that the press, too, can make mistakes and that cartoonists are also human and cannot be above criticism.