We are the voice of the voiceless!

The right to free and open access to news and information is universal, but threats to a free press persist in South Africa.
Politicians and government officials in this country are quick to blame the media when things do not go their way, yet they want to invite us when the ‘terms and conditions’ suit them. I was somewhat annoyed by one guy called ‘Juju’ this past week when he, in lay-man’s terms, ‘banned’ a media house from attending his organisation’s events and saying that he cannot guarantee their safety if they do. Journalists should be allowed and not ‘beg’ to attend any public event, march or meeting of any nature in this country. Many politicians and government officials do not hesitate to berate the news media and vilify journalism in their public addresses. Their attacks are frontal and accusatory. Some incite hatred and even violence. I most certainly do not like people who publicly attack journalists and media outlets instead of responding to their criticism. As we might all know, journalism is a dangerous profession and we find ourselves sometimes becoming the targets of political anger, but this should not be in South Africa – a democratic state with such diverse heritage. Many people think they can avoid bad publicity by threatening journalists with violence and/or legal action. Such threats should always be resisted. Some, in their ‘high seats’ tolerate no disagreement, not even the least debate. Others routinely identify any expression of doubt as an act of opposition, sedition or conspiracy, or as interference. Others wage campaigns of harassment against the media outlets or journalists they dislike. From veiled allusions to open death threats, the style varies from country to country but the goal remains the same – to gag information. I believe that we (journalists) should be left to do our jobs whether it suits people or not. Julius should learn that the very same way he needs us to tell his ‘positive’ side of the story and we come, we will also be there when something negative arises, after all, We are the voice of the voiceless!

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