SA: Journalists continue to face challenges

SA: Journalists continue to face challenges

Date: May 4, 2018
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by Sandiswa Manana

Johannesburg, 3 May: Media stakeholders including government officials, civil society, media activists journalists and editors met on 3 May in Johannesburg, South Africa to celebrate and engage on World Press Freedom under the theme “ ‘Keeping Power in Check: Media, Justice and the Rule of Law’ .

Panellists at the event raised some serious challenges faced by people working in the media. The panel included Amina Frense from the South African National Editors (SANEF), Nadia Bulbulia from the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), Simon Banda from the Small Commercial Print – ThisAbility, Musa Sishange from the Media Development and Diversity Agency (MDDA), and Mduduzi Manana who is the president of the National Community Radio Forum (NCRF), along with Faiza Abrahams-Smith from the Institute for the Advancement of Journalism (IAJ)who was the programme director.

The safety of journalists is one of the challenges that people in the media face. The media houses or the government, in many countries, have no rules and regulations that protect journalists from getting hurt when they are out on the field fishing for stories.

Safety of journalist’s especially female journalists is a growing cause of concern. Speaking at the event Amina Frense raised that “An injustice anywhere threatens justice everywhere” is she noted that female journalists were being kept in jails (some with their children) for telling the truth. In most cases, these journalists are not charged but because those who do not want to be incriminated want to remove them from their way, they just keep them in jail to silence them. Incriminating stories can put a journalist’s life in danger.

“Journalists are also members of our society and it hurts seeing them being killed for telling stories”, said Musa Sishange. Somehow, the public forgets that before a journalist performs their job, they are also people and the brutal killings of journalists’ affect their loved ones. They are being executed for doing their jobs. Their right to life is being violated. Killing journalists and keeping some in jail threatens the safety of other journalists or media people worldwide. South Africa has moved past the era of apartheid but it is not an everyday situation where people feel free in their native land. The brutal assassination of journalists also happens in this country. The Citizen, in March 2017, reported on a shooting by which a journalist, Shirley Brijlal, was also involved. Brijlal was shot at with a grenade as she was reporting during the protest that was taking place in Lenasia South, in Johannesburg. The residents were protesting against the illegal grabbing of their land when the police started shooting at them and end up injuring a journalist. People who are involved in crime and corruption do not want to be discovered, and once a journalist threatens their cover they use their power and positions to kill them.

The society that we live in previously ill-treated people living with disabilities and women, and there has never been a miraculous change even in this time. People living with disabilities are being overshadowed and excluded from the media spheres as if they are not part of our society. Simon Manda mentioned Prudence Mabena, a musician from Zimbabwe who is living with a disability. Apparently Mabena won an Oscar award for her music but she never got it because of her living condition. The public has to understand that it is impossible to change the situation that you were born with, and a person cannot be judged because of that but because of their abilities. There is a bigger void that has to be filled which will include people living with disabilities, women, and LGBTI people in the media spheres. The freedom of expression is every person’s right and therefore the representation of women and people living with disability in the media platforms is very important. South Africa, not so long ago, was celebrating Human Rights and Freedom day. How can people celebrate and claim that they are free while there are some members of the society whose voices are being suppressed? People cannot keep on claiming they are free while women and people living with disabilities are still being hindered from appearing in the public spheres or in the media podiums.

Media platforms should go in-depth with the safety and security of journalists in the field, involving people living with disabilities and women in the media platforms and ensuring justice for all. Gender inequality, sexual harassment and discrimination should not be the challenge that people in the media spaces or industries face. It is in every person’s best interest to feel free, safe and secure in their place of work despite their gender, living condition or sexuality.

Article by Sandiswa Manana, an Alliance and Partnerships intern at Gender Links. This story is part of the GL News and Blogs series.

2 thoughts on “SA: Journalists continue to face challenges”

Londy says:

Its tough in South Africa people are being killed for telling the truth. SA government must do something about this, we need journalists to inform us about things that are happening in our country.

Andile says:

This is so true.. Well written

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