“IT was a genuine human error,” said Namibian Sun editor Toivo Ndjebela yesterday during a public hearing into a complaint against the newspaper for publishing an advertisement that resembled a newspaper article under the heading ‘This is what we want’.
The complainant, Hans-Christian Mahnke, said the content, which appears to be an advert, had no logo or sponsorship tag on it.
Namibian Sun is accused of flouting the code of ethics and conduct for Namibia’s print, broadcasting and online media – specifically articles 3,2, 3,3 and 3,4 – by publishing the content on 6 October 2021.
“The content is paid advertising, yet no logo or sponsorship appeared on the page,” Mahnke said yesterday during the public hearing by a media complaints committee that took place under the auspices of the office of the media ombudsman.
He added that the piece published is unbalanced due to the lack of perspective provided by relevant parties that attempts to hide behind a facade of journalistic unmortality.
“There is no diversity of opinion; it appears this exclusion was done intentionally,” he said.
According to Ndjebela, the content was paid for by ReconAfrica, a Canadian oil and gas company engaged in the exploration and development of oil and gas in Namibia and Botswana, and admits to the mistake of the omission of the logo.
“The advert was paid for, like any other advert in the newspaper, by ReconAfrica. The logo should have been there and it had nothing to do with spacing,” Ndjebela said.
“What happened that day is that I got a Twitter message from the complainant, Mr Mahnke, asking about the advert on page 7 of our newspaper,” he added.
According to Ndjebela, he responded by saying it was his first time seeing that, because normally he does not go through the advertisements in the paper.
“We immediately had a meeting where I complained about what should not have happened. I am not here to contest the error, but the assumptions that we were paid for this error,” he said.
Ndjebela added that he will develop ways to ensure that the mistake does not happen again.
He said for them to be robbed of their salaries for a genuine mistake will be something really bad.
Addressing the chairperson of the discussion, major general James Tjivikua, Ndjebela said the mistake was made by someone in the marketing department who was oblivious of the code of ethics.
“We did not take any disciplinary action against the person responsible for the error because the code of ethics normally applies to the newsroom. It would be extremely harsh to punish someone who is unaware of the code of ethics,” he said.
Ndjebela, who owned up to the mistake, says the company did not issue an apology as he did not want to interfere with the public hearing process.
According to Tjivikua, the outcome of the public hearing will be issued after 14 working days.