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Haffajee welcomes transformation debate

The City Press faces scrutiny after a dispute over media transformation.

City Press Editor Ferial Haffajee. Picture: Supplied

CAPE TOWN - City Press Editor Ferial Haffajee says one does not have to be black in order to cover South African politics correctly.

Last week the paper came under scrutiny following a dispute over transformation in the newsroom.

Some reporters were unhappy with the appointment of Natasha Joseph as news editor and Nicki Gules as assistant editor.

They argued that a black news editor would be able to get political stories through calls from black African politicians.

The debate escalated when Haffajee took to social media to voice her views about the dispute.

She tweeted:

I don't tolerate white racists, so what makes black racists any different? Today, I drew a line in that sand. Two sides: one awful coin.

Haffajee told the Redi Tlhabi Show that the last few days have been very hard on her.

"I find myself in a very tough position because I am the editor, the person responsible for the well being of my entire team. Last week was not comfortable for me at all, but I do think these are important elements to be tackled."

Haffajee said it was important to have a diverse newsroom.

"I think all our newsrooms have to be representative of our country in order to cover that country correctly. We say we hold up a mirror to society, therefore I think it's incumbent for us to be an accurate reflection of that mirror."

She said she hoped the debate would strengthen the newsroom.

"I think my colleagues and I are headed down a road of important national debates and I hope that we come out much stronger."

The dispute at City Press came just days after Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema accused newsrooms of not transforming.

Malema told his supporters during his party launch at Marikana that some newsrooms were perpetuating racism against black reporters.

He has since lashed out at Haffajee for vocalising her opinion about a private City Press matter on Twitter.

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