Government celebrates media freedom

2018-10-31 06:01

The government has joined South African media in commemorating Media Freedom Day and the anniversary of Black Wednesday.

On 19 October 1977, which became known as Black Wednesday, South Africa’s apartheid government banned three publications and outlawed 17 anti-apartheid groups during a one-day crackdown.

According to Phumla Williams, acting governmental spokesperson, the government sees 19 October as a day to recognise the role of the media in strengthening democracy.

“Media freedom is one of the cornerstones of a democracy. This freedom, entrenched in the South African Constitution, should be safeguarded at all times.”

Williams said the diverse South African media industry, known for its robustness, is critical in shaping public discourse, ensuring that the country has an informed citizenry and enabling participation in debates.

“In South Africa, the media enjoys editorial independence and our Constitution is unambiguous about the protection of media freedom. The role of the media in our developmental agenda is vital to growth.

“We see the media as a partner in nation-building. It fosters social cohesion and encourages public debate on a variety of issues that affect our nation and the rest of the world,” she said.

However, while the government believes that the freedom of the media should be protected, the media has a responsibility to report fairly and truthfully, avoiding exaggeration and departure from the facts.

“Irresponsible reporting is detrimental to people’s careers and reputation in society,” Williams said.

According to Williams, the government will always strive to deepen relations with the media to reflect a genuine South African story.

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