Fazil Cassim vs Sunday Times Extra

Dear Mr Cassim

Your complaint against Sunday Times Extra (Matric bash clashes with Ramadan – Department of education to urge school to change the date – 21 April 2013) refers.

You complain that:

·         Sunday Times did not publish your response;

·         the headline was misleading in that it would not have caused concern to Muslims in general (only to a single source); and

·         the newspaper neglected to publish the opinion of a Muslim that the publication had sought on this subject.

Here is my response:

·         This office cannot decide for a newspaper what letters to publish and what not – that is the prerogative of the editor only;

·         The headline merely reflected the fact that the date of the matric bash at the school coincided with Ramadan – a fact which was not in dispute;

·         Even if the story did only refer to one Muslim, the headline still merely said that the matric bash clashed with Ramadan (and not that it would upset the Muslim community); and

·         The newspaper says that it decided that comments from a Muslim commentator had not been essential to the story and therefore had to be cut due to space constraints. This is normal journalistic practice and I have no reason to doubt this argument.

I am therefore dismissing your complaint.

You may within seven working days of receipt of this decision apply for leave to appeal to the Chairperson of the SA Press Adjudication Panel, Judge Bernard Ngoepe, fully setting out the grounds of appeal. He can be contacted at Khanyim@ombudsman.org.za.

Johan Retief

Press Ombudsman