Independent Media’s Women Editors Condemn Unethical Journalism and Research Practices

Editor-in-Chief Adri Senekal de Wet

Editor-in-Chief Adri Senekal de Wet

Published May 23, 2024


Outrage over unethical and biased research article by the Daily Maverick.

As Editor in Chief of Independent Media, I, Adri Senekal de Wet, alongside my esteemed colleagues including Managing Editor Melanie Peters, Western Cape Regional Assistant Editor Jade Otto, Post Editor Yogas Nair, Business Report Executive Editor Philippa Larkin, Personal Finance Content Editor Dieketseng Maleke, and National Production Editor Renata Ford, feel compelled to address a troubling issue that has recently come to light: the publication of an unethical and biased research article by the Daily Maverick allegedly based on the study by the International Centre for Journalists (ICFJ).

What is most concerning is that what was supposed to be good research deviated from its primary focus of addressing the abuse faced by women journalists at the Daily Maverick, invoking the name of our organisation without basis.

The claims that our organisation is “captured” and part of the “vector” of online abuses suffered by the Daily Maverick’s women journalists are utterly baseless and untrue.

These research sections and references to Independent Media are not only patently false but biased, and also lack any substantive evidence to support such claims.

While the Daily Maverick journalists seem to have enjoyed latitude and got engaged by the researchers, neither Independent Media’s women editors nor our reporters were included in any survey conducted by the ICFJ, and consequently, our voices were not represented in the said research.

This oversight is deeply concerning and highlights a fundamental flaw in the whole research process.

My colleague Melanie Peters, Managing Editor of Independent Media, raised concerns about the research. “It is imperative that diverse voices, including those of Independent Media’s women editors and reporters, are given equal opportunity to contribute to the discourse and shape the narratives that define our society.”

As advocates for ethical journalism and research, we firmly believe in the importance of diverse perspectives, and balanced reporting, including ethical and unbiased research. However, the publication of biased narratives without the inclusion of Independent Media’s women editors and reporters not only undermines the integrity of the profession but also perpetuates a one-sided view.

“We are women journalists and editors who work tirelessly and often put ourselves at risk to cover important issues such as gender-based violence and the high murder rate of women and children. Our journalists go into some of the country’s most dangerous areas so that every South African has a voice and an opportunity to speak truth to power,” adds Peters.

Furthermore, it is disheartening to note that despite being subjected to humiliation by various competitor publications, not once was I, as editor-in-chief, contacted for my response or perspective on the matters at hand. This lack of professional courtesy is not only disrespectful but also goes against the basic principles of ethical research, as well as fair and balanced reporting.

While we wholeheartedly support research initiatives that aim to combat the abuse of female journalists, the inclusion of Independent Media in this study about our competitor media for ulterior motives is unwarranted and defeats the very purpose of such research.

It is disheartening to see that this research has been used as a tool to target and malign our organisation instead of focusing on the real issues at hand.

We condemn such unethical practices in the strongest terms possible and call upon researchers and academia to uphold the highest standards of integrity, objectivity, and inclusivity in their research and reporting.

We urge the Daily Maverick and the International Centre for Journalists to rectify this grave oversight, issue a public apology, and retract the biased and unsubstantiated allegations made against Independent Media in their research.

Independent Media women journalists have also been victims of abuse and attacks.

As women journalists and editors, we stand united in our fight against the abuse and harassment of women in our profession. We stand united in our commitment to ethical journalism and call upon our fellow journalists to join us in upholding the principles of fairness, accuracy, and accountability in all aspects of our work.

The baseless allegations against our media house and biased research defeat the purpose of what could have been good research and should be retracted.

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media freedom