More funding needed to ensure impartiality in journalism
Cape Town - Today the world celebrates World Press Freedom day, a day of commemorating the press, media and journalists around the world.
South African press and media has been free and independent since 1994, protected by Section 16 of the Constitution, which speaks to the right of freedom of expression, which includes freedom of the press and other media.
Project manager for the South African National Editor’s Forum (Sanef) Hopewell Radebe said that this year’s theme being ‘information for public good’ is at the centre of journalism and that he is grateful that the world recognises the importance of media freedom.
“The media is seen as the fourth pillar of democracy, following the Legislative, executive and judiciary.The job played by journalists is essentially to provide people with information enabling citizens to make informed decisions.”
“A big part of media freedom is the protection of journalists. We and through several organisations such as UNASCA and Reporters without Borders, we combat the abuse of journalists.”
Rhadebe explained that the protection of journalists includes eradication of political parties and figures using social media to verbally abuse journalists.The assault of journalists by police is also a persistent problem.
National Coordinator Mark Weinberg, said that despite media freedom South African media is in danger due to commercialisation and a lack of funding.
“The South African media is in a crisis, driven by a large dependency on commercialisation and advertising in particular. We have fewer journalists covering more stories with less resources disposable to them.”
Weinberg explained that the South African media is struggling to serve the needs of our democracy as it caters mostly for English speakers which makes it extremely difficult for the media to play the vital role of informing the masses.
Weinberg said that in order for the media to remain impartial and independent it requires proper funding, without having to rely on advertising. Proper funding is needed to provide quality journalism that is independent and fulfilling its duty to citizens.
“To journalists we celebrate them for doing a very important public service, and we are encouraging them to continue to defend the newsroom from media owners.”