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Wed Oct 22 14:14:26 SAST 2014

SABC defends Malema coverage: report

Sapa | 14 September, 2012 11:01
Julius Malema addresses about 60 soldiers in civilian dress at the Lenasia Recreation Centre. File photo.

The decision on how to cover events involving expelled ANC Youth League president Julius Malema is based on news value and not popularity, SABC acting head of news Jimi Matthews said in a report on Friday.

"News coverage has to be based on news value, not on following the herd. I won't be stampeded into following the popular line," Matthews told the Mail & Guardian newspaper.

"There has to be a responsible attitude. It is not good enough to say that just because the guy is out there doing what he is doing, we have to hang onto his every word. We have to contextualise it and think about the consequences."

The SABC has come under fire after some staff members claimed that some coverage of Malema had been pulled.

Matthews defended the public broadcaster's coverage, and said they had led Tuesday evening's broadcast with Malema speaking to mineworkers at Goldfields.

He said the SABC had not broadcast Malema's address to members of the SA National Defence Force, though a reporter was assigned to it, because of the low turn-out by soldiers. Only about 40 people had attended the address.

Matthews denied that his division was being given instructions on who to cover, and said decisions on what to cover were aimed at providing "nuanced" reporting.

"My challenge to my political team is: let's be more nuanced (sic) in our reporting. Here is a man [Malema] who is exploiting the desperation of poor people, with promises that he is not able to deliver," Matthews told the paper.

"This guy [Malema]... is supposedly unemployed, but he travels around. They must question and find [out] who is funding him."

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