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Telco aids relief fund for retrenched journalists

MTN SA Executive for Corporate Affairs, Jacqui O'Sullivan
MTN SA Executive for Corporate Affairs, Jacqui O’Sullivan

JOHANNESBURG – INITIATIVES to cushion journalists that have lost their livelihoods as a direct result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) national disaster have received a timely financial boost after a mobile operator contributed R500 000.

MTN South Africa has donated the funds to the Social Justice Initiative (SJI), which the South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF) is launching.

JSI is acting as a fiscal host for the fund and will be playing an oversight role to ensure that all funds are fairly and transparently distributed.

“In making the announcement today, we want to express our warm gratitude to MTN SA for their contribution of R500 000 to start the fund and for their further commitment to lobby other corporates to contribute,” Mahlatse Mahlase, SANEF’s chairperson, said.

The purpose of the funding is to assist those in dire need with a small donation to purchase necessities like food and clothing.

Only freelance, contract or permanently employed journalists who have been retrenched or had their contracts cancelled since the implementation of the national lockdown on March 26 will be eligible to apply.

The announcement fulfils a pledge when SANEF launched its “COVID19 Impact on Journalism” Report in June 2020.

The report reveals the closure of two magazine publishers and 80 small print publications operating across the country, leading to the loss of over 700 journalist jobs.

Also, the report pointed to the fact that freelancers had been particularly badly impacted and that 60 percent of their members had lost almost 70 percent of their income – and that some had lost 80 percent to 100 percent.

Jacqui O’Sullivan, Executive: Corporate Affairs at MTN SA, said it was imperative that the private sector stepped in to offer financial assistance to ensure quality reporting standards could be maintained across digital, broadcast and print media platforms.

“To ensure communication channels remain open and the public gets information it can trust, MTN is proud to partner with SANEF to begin offering financial support and aid through a targeted relief fund for journalists,” O’Sullivan stated.

– CAJ News

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