'Media freedom is that very last guarantee for individual freedom

2017-05-03 18:37
Stellenbosch University Journalism Department Dean Lizette Rabe tells journalism honours students that media freedom secures individual freedom. (Supplied, Dylan Jack)

Stellenbosch University Journalism Department Dean Lizette Rabe tells journalism honours students that media freedom secures individual freedom. (Supplied, Dylan Jack)

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Cape Town – Journalists need to be trusted to tell people’s stories, the Stellenbosch University journalism honours class heard during a panel discussion on Wednesday morning.

“People in the communities we report on feel comfortable contacting us as opposed to the larger, mainstream newspapers because they know it is usually us who are willing to listen,” Cape Community Newspapers Editor Chantel Erfort said according to a statement released by the journalism department.

Erfort joined UCT Centre of Film and Media Associate Professor Tanja Bosch, GroundUp Associate Editor Alide Dasnois and SU Journalism Department Dean Lizette Rabe for a panel discussion to commemorate World Press Freedom Day.

Rabe emphasised the importance of media freedom.

“Media freedom is that very last guarantee for individual freedom. Today we celebrate the fundamental principles of media freedom and mobilise to protect those principles,” she said.

Rabe also highlighted the need for community voices in South Africa’s media landscape to combat the “echo chamber” effect where the same news is reused by several mainstream media outlets.

“South Africa needs a supply of fresh air, and we can get this from well organised, professional community news media,” she said.

Erfort said social media brought new voices to the forefront.

“People are harnessing social media to tell their own stories, which is great, but journalists still need to do the work of verifying information,” she said.

GroundUp also strives to give a voice to marginalised members of society, said Dasnois.

“We cover social issues like poverty, healthcare and infrastructure through an individual’s unique story, this makes it come alive,” said Dasnois

She said GroundUp briefs its journalists to report only what they’ve seen or had verified from at least two trustworthy sources. There is also a rigorous editorial process taken for each article.

“It’s difficult to get the facts straight, but we don’t publish unless we’re as sure as we can be we have them,” said Dasnois.

According to Unesco, World press freedom has been celebrated since 1998 to celebrate the fundamental principles of press freedom; to evaluate press freedom around the world, to defend the media from attacks on their independence and to pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the exercise of their profession.

Read more on:    stellenbosch university  |  media

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