Every year on the 3rd of May, the world celebrates the fundamental principles of press freedom, to defend the media from attacks on their independence and to pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives while exercising of their profession.

 

SA Media Freedom

In concerns around media freedom, South Africa ranks third among African nations and 28th on the 2018 World Press Freedom Index. Its media independence is considered “fragile”. Reporters Without Borders further lists Ghana highest on the continent, with Eritrea at the bottom of the 182 countries judged. Norway is first and North Korea is the worst press freedom offender.

 

Recently,  SABC journalists were robbed of their equipment while covering  violent service delivery protests in the North West. In late 2017,  SABC journalist Mike Maringa was harassed and intimidated by the South African Police whilst filming at the Beit Bridge Boarder gate. Earlier in 2017, Former SABC executives Hlaudi Motsoeneng and Simon Tebele were found personally liable, along with the SABC, to pay the legal costs of the group of employees known as the SABC 8. The eight were illegally fired after they protested against the public broadcaster’s censoring of violent protests, among other things.

 

May 3 acts as a reminder to governments of the need to respect their commitment to press freedom and is also a day of reflection among media professionals about issues of press freedom and professional ethics.

Veteran journalist, Jacques Pauw, says he received death threats  since the release of his book: “The President’s Keepers”. His home was consequently raided by the HAWKS. In December 2017, President Cyril Ramaphosa apologised to the media for reports of ill-treating journalists during the just-ended party national elective conference. This followed the man-handling of a member of the Bloomberg media company, Sam Mkokheli, by a high ranking VIP protection officer at the precincts of the Nasrec Expo centre where the conference was held.

South African social media lit up with conversation over an assault on Netwerk24 journalist Adrian de Kock by Economic Freedom Fighters’ deputy president Floyd Shivambu.

World Press Freedom

On the 28th of April 2018, ten journalists were killed in Afghanistan, including nine reporters and photographers who died in a suicide bomb attack in the capital Kabul and a journalist working for the Afghan language service of the BBC who was shot dead in the eastern city of Khost.

At least 81 journalists were killed doing their jobs in 2017 as attacks and harassment towards reporters has been increasing, according to the International Federation of Journalists. The Committee to Protect Journalists further says that in 2017 alone, 262 journalists were jailed.

Just as importantly, World Press Freedom Day is a day of support for media which are targets for the restraint, or abolition, of press freedom. It is also a day of remembrance for those journalists who lost their lives in the pursuit of a story.

See below as journalists take to social media on Word Press Freedom Day:

Sources: UNESCO, Reporters Without Borders, Committee to Protect Journalists, Reuters