Media awards withdrawn

Staff Writer | Mar 22, 2019
Conveners of the prestigious Taco Kuiper Award for Investigative Journalism have withdrawn awards.

Conveners of the prestigious Taco Kuiper Award for Investigative Journalism have withdrawn awards given to three Sunday Times journalists for their Cato Manor killings reports due to elements of the story being called into question.

In 2011, the paper ran a front page story titled "Shoot to Kill" which was authored by journalists Stephan Hoffstatter, Mzilikazi wa Africa and Rob Rose. The article claimed to have lifted the lid on "killings committed by an elite police unit". The three were given the Taco Kuiper Award for Investigative Journalism runner-up award in 2012.

After conducting its own investigation, the awards body said it would  withdraw the runner-up award and has asked that the journalists return it.

Convenor Anton Harber says ”While there was a legitimate story around the Cato Manor unit – the reporting, writing and editing was shoddy and amateurish, leading to serious errors and gaps in the report.”

"With the information that has come to light, it is clear that this work did not merit the recognition of the award."

Harber said the award was given "in good faith, based on the information before us at the time”. The awards body has said it took extra measures this year to ensure it does not repeat the mistake. 

"We have this year subjected entries to detailed screening before our judging process, putting questions to entrants where there was a lack of clarity about any aspect of the story or reporting on it.

It is a salutary tale for the three journalists. The right to freedom of speech, however, creates the obligation to be accurate.

Social media needs to be subjected to the same scrutiny.

 


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