used only as a last resort – i.e. when there is no other way to get and publish the story.’” Instead, said the panel, the journalist concerned had published and only thereafter gone to sources he could have placed on record.
In its findings, it rejected one of the newspaper’s defences concerning the size of the tender, which had been that the R600-million figure had been used in several news reports before and had not been questioned. “Again, a lame excuse. There is no reason to use figures because everybody else is using them. It is the responsibility of the journalists to get the facts and figures right.” Also criticised was the newspaper’s defence that while it had given some space to Gumede’s responses, it had pointed readers to his full response online. “The panel’s responsibility is to look at what was published in the story and not to go beyond into another medium. Many readers would end up with only the print version.” The panel agreed that the complainant had been wronged and deserved an apology. Interestingly, it also criticised a Poster advertising the newspaper, which had carried the headline “Key Zuma funder in graft probe”. Gumede, however, had previously told the paper that he had long donated to the ANC as an organisation and never to a particular presidential incumbent. More fundamentally, the panel said that the paper had erred by assuming on the basis of (belated) information that a “nole prosequi” certificate had not been issued, that the police investigation had therefore continued – whereas the Director of Public Prosecutions had decided not to prosecute Gumede. In other words, problematic journalistic practice was upbraided.
In another two cases soon after, complaints by ANC leader Frank Chikane were upheld, with the offending newspapers accepted the ruling of the Ombudsman. The first case was announced on 3 August, in which Business Day newspaper was found to have breached four paragraphs of the press code, and ordered to apologise to him. In the original story, the paper’s political editor had reported that the ANC was gagging Chikane from speaking out freely. The ruling argued that the paper had stretched the meaning of an ANC press statement too far, and had also failed to give Chikane a chance to comment. Rebutting Business Day’s defence that other journalists had carried the man’s responses, the Ombudsman made strong comments: “A newspaper cannot delegate