‘Wapad’ wheels on the roll again

The editor of Wapad, the student paper of the North West University’s Potchefstroom campus is happy that the newspaper will soon be back in business.

But Kevin du Plessis, Wapad editor said: “We have many things to sort out in the coming weeks to protect Wapad’s independence for coming generations of student journalists.”

The paper’s journalists already had many discussions underway about the paper’s independence thanks to the support they received from their Communications lecturers.

Du Plessis said the social media response and its role with regard to the newspaper’s reinstatement was their “saviour”. “The word got out so quickly and it served as a great platform for discussion.”

[pullquote align=”right”]“the right of a student newspaper to appear without editorial interference was emphasised by campus management”[/pullquote]

Beeld newspaper reported on Wednesday that the campus’s marketing and communications department announced the newspaper would appear again on October 10.

Pukke spokesman Johan van Zyl said about R 40 000 of the advertising fees were collected. The outstanding debt would be settled by campus management to ensure that the next editorial team do not start their year in debt.

Van Zyl said management decided that Wapad could be published again because some of the money had been collected.

Last week media reported that the Pukke’s marketing and communication department told Du Plessis that neither a printed edition nor an online edition of Wapad would be allowed for the rest of the year, until almost R80 000 in outstanding advertising fees were collected.

Wits Vuvuzela spoke to Du Plessis who said the decision to ban the newspaper was a plan to control the newspaper’s content to ensure it upholds the university’s reputation and that it was a plan to control media distributed on campus.

Beeld reported that Van Zyl said the newspaper’s expenses must be sustained by advertising income and “the right of a student newspaper to appear without editorial interference was emphasised by campus management as well as the fact that any newspaper can appear with a sustainable income.”

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A step back in media freedom for Pukke paper

The journalists at Wapad, the student paper of North West University’s Potchefstroom campus, said a decision to ban their publication is part of a plan to control media distributed on campus.

On Monday, Pukke’s marketing and communication department told Wapad editor Kevin du Plessis that the paper would not be published due to uncollected advertising fees of almost R80 000.

[pullquote]Banning, part of a plan to control the newspaper’s content to ensure it upholds the university’s reputation.[/pullquote] The university said neither a printed edition nor an online edition will be allowed to be published for the rest of the year until the money is collected.

 

Controlling media 

However, du Plessis said the banning was part of a plan to control the newspaper’s content to ensure it upholds the university’s reputation.

“This would mean that the newspaper will be managed by the marketing department and that everything will have to be checked by them before being published. The new chief editor they are going to appoint will also be an employee of the marketing department,” du Plessis said.

Wapad takes the fall for outstanding money

Pukke spokesman Johan van Zyl, in an article published on the M&G Online, denied du Plessis’ accusation and said Wapad could be published after the debt was settled.

“We stand for media freedom and actually promote it. It’s up to them to put the funds as soon as possible,” van Zyl told the website.

Promoting critical thinking

Du Plessis said this year has been a “culture shock” for the paper in terms of content. Wapad journalists have tried to write about prominent issues that promote critical thinking and expose injustices within the university including issues of sex, race, discrimination and abuse.[pullquote align=”right”]The blowback to Wapad’s articles have included physical violence.[/pullquote]

Earlier this year, Wapad published an article on a lecturer who made discriminatory and homophobic remarks. The lecturer allegedly said homosexuals are unnatural and should not exist.

Wapad also reveal the harsh treatment of first years by student leaders in Veritas residence. They published images of male students, bent over with their bottoms exposed, badly beaten and bruised to the point of having large, open sores.

Violent repercussions 

The blowback to Wapad’s articles have included physical violence. Last Saturday, du Plessis was assaulted by a student from Veritas men’s residence.[pullquote]”The university only cares about their reputation and tradition”[/pullquote]

The student allegedly hit du Plessis in the face for publishing an article which he claimed was disloyal to Veritas res.

Du Plessis said the university does little to provide the newspaper with feedback on what actions will be taken when the paper reveals misbehaviour.

“The university will never give us a formal press release to tell us what they are going to do about it. They only care about their reputation and tradition,” he said. [pullquote align=”right”]“I will keep fighting this fight because I want the person who takes over from me to be able to continue with what we have achieved and be able to write independently.”[/pullquote]

Boycotting Wapad

Du Plessis said leaders in residences have boycotted the paper in the past by telling students not to read it and not allowing it to be delivered.

“I will keep fighting this fight because I want the person who takes over from me to be able to continue with what we have achieved and be able to write independently,” said Du Plessis, who is leaving the paper at the end of the year.

In Wapad’s May edition professor Johannes Froneman announced that he will step down from his position of media regulator at the paper. He said he was disappointed with the lack of independence the paper has from the university and that this infringed on their right to freedom of speech.