Media Policy

HSRC Upholds Freedom of Speech

The Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) recognises the constitutional right of South Africans to academic freedom and regards this as necessary for the undertaking of credible social science research that makes a difference to the lives of the country’s citizens.

The HSRC’s media policy, which was adopted by the executive directors and approved by the Council on 24 November 2005, respects this right and empowers its researchers to undertake critical research that is independent, peer reviewed, and relevant for national reconstruction and development.

HSRC Media Policy

Rationale

This policy is intended to regulate interaction between the HSRC and the media with a view to protecting the image and reputation of the organisation, and to minimising the potential for friction with its stakeholders, in the light of the findings of the 2005 strategic risk assessment, which identified unregulated media relations as the fourth highest risk for the organisation, particularly in relation to:

  • inappropriate public release of controversial or sensitive information;
  • public expression of uninformed comment on sensitive or controversial issues; and
  • researchers promoting their own profiles as opposed to promoting the organisation.

Key issue

To protect the integrity of the HSRC while preserving the autonomy of researchers through the establishment of guidelines for public engagement with the media.

Underlying principles

This policy seeks to strike a balance between the constitutional right to free speech of individual researchers both as scientists and as private citizens, and the rights of the HSRC to preserve and protect its image and reputation as an independent, non-partisan organisation.

The media policy endeavours to help delineate the boundaries.

The media policy

In order to bring some order and add structure to what is currently a rather chaotic situation in HSRC media relations, the HSRC community will observe the following policy:

Executive directors and heads of units/sections are both responsible and accountable for public statements made in the name of the HSRC from within their units or programmes, and are required to ensure that such statements are in line with the HSRC values of independence, non-discrimination, honesty and non-partisanship, keeping in mind that:

  • The HSRC is not an advocacy organisation, and should therefore not be portrayed as propounding specific socio-political positions or views based on a priori conviction or belief.
  • The HSRC is a knowledge-based organisation that offers only knowledge-based comment or critique.