More than 100 students at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) protested outside Newspaper House on Thursday, chanting “fees must fall” before presenting a memorandum of demands to The Herald.
Student Yandisa Jubase read the memorandum accusing The Herald of reporting on student protesters as “rogue”, “unruly” and “militant”. Jubase demanded free and fair reporting and adherence to the South African press code.
Students said the paper was unwilling to do research on its stories, and had denied their right of reply by instead approaching the SRC for comment. They asked for The Herald to close the comments section on the HeraldLIVE Facebook page, failing which they would approach the press ombudsman.
They further said The Herald would continue to “delegitimise” them if they didn’t come to its offices today.
The Herald Editor Brett Horner said #FeesMustFall was a complex issue, not only in Port Elizabeth at NMMU but around the country.
“Developments have been fast moving and in this environment we have tried to capture the full range of voices. The students who gathered at The Herald this afternoon are unhappy with some of our reporting. Naturally we will take their grievance on board and I will be contacting them this afternoon,” Horner said.
“They are welcome to see me personally and to expand on this important issue. But it won’t stop us from reporting this story without fear or favour.
“Their demands for moderation of social media comments on our platforms are not without merit and certainly we would always hope that reader engagement would take the opinions and views of others into account. We will, with guidance from our group digital team, be looking at this pertinent part of our media offering.”
The students said they would continue to mobilise and visit various public institutions.
“This city will come to a standstill next week. There will be no rubber bullets. Our lecturers will march with us,” one spokesman said.