“DICKNITY” - Surrendering For The Greater Good.

2012-05-28 20:37

The decision by City Press editor Ferial Haffajee to remove the numb and infamous image of The Spear from the publication’s website should be welcomed by every conscience driven South African.

While I take the reasons cited for removing the disgusting painting with a pinch of salt, the decision deserves respect and praise.

Had Ferial Haffajee and her editorial team been more sensitive to human feelings, dignity and not expose an individual’s “dicknity”, this entire debacle could have been avoided. Media space and attention could have been devoted to more important issues like poverty alleviation, the lack of quality education, health care and the alleged abuse of crime intelligence funds by Lieutenant-General Richard Mdluli, just to name a few.

Although I am pleased that the controversial painting has been withdrawn from the City Press website, I am extremely concerned about the threats to the staff of City Press.

In order for any democratic government to function appropriately and to prevent abuse of power and to be accountable and transparent, a free, responsible, accurate and an ethical media are extremely necessary.

Autonomy from government control is crucial to allow the media to publish government matters and policies in order to encourage public discussion and participation. Democracy requires an educated and an informed populace.

One of the main features of a democracy is freedom of expression and access to information. Democracy centres on investigative and fearless reporting and an independent media that is truly free from any interference. Critical and probing questions, knowledge of the subject, wide-ranging information and a broad milieu are essential tools for independent reporting or writing.

Recently I attended a meeting by Amnesty International South Africa in Braamfontein, Gauteng.

During the tea break I had an opportunity to chat with a Bangladeshi “refugee” journalist. He had to flee his country after being put on the “hit-list” by well connected politicians and government officials for having written against the senseless killings perpetuated by the different political parties and religious groups in Bangladash.

This is very sad that a journalist has to flee his country of birth, leaving behind his family and friends.

It is absolutely essential that journalists be able to write, share and report truthfully on matters of public interest freely without fear of intimidation, cruelty and victimisation.

To quote Mahatma Gandhi: “Freedom of the press is a precious privilege that no country can forgo”.

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