Everyone should be interested in media freedom – Robert McBride on World Press Freedom Day

2019-05-03 21:55
Robert McBride

Robert McBride (Felix Dlangamandla)

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As the world celebrated World Press Freedom Day on May 3, former Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) head Robert McBride said it was in everyone's best interests to be "interested in the freedom of the media".

Speaking at a Daily Maverick-hosted event at the St George's Cathedral in Cape Town, McBride warned that an attack on journalists was an attack on democracy.

"During apartheid, we had all types of journalists," McBride said. "Some were pro the policies and some against the policies of the past.

"An attack on journalists is an attack on the Constitution and therefore an attack on each of us."

Others in attendance at the event included Gangster State author Pieter-Louis Myburgh, ANC veteran Mavuso Msimang and Sam Mkokeli of the South African National Editors' Forum (Sanef).

McBride continued, saying "for us in the public service, journalists become prying, invasive and irritating. But that is the price of democracy: to have an ever vigilant free media.

"There is a correlation between a free media, the consolidation of democracy and development. It is in your own interest, even if you have selfish interests, to be interested in the freedom of the media."

Press freedom 'guaranteed but fragile'

While South Africans marked the day, Reporters Without Borders, the non-governmental organisation looking at issues relating to press freedom across the globe, marked South Africa down three places from 2018 – from 28 to 31, commenting that South Africa's press freedom is "guaranteed but fragile".

The report cited the alleged tapping of journalists' phones and other sources of harassment and intimidation when reporting on corruption, as a reason for the lower placing.

Read more on:    robert mcbride  |  media freedom

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