South Africa is ranked as number 24 on Reporters Without Borders World Press Freedom Index, and number three in all of Africa. On Thursday, social media erupted with talk of World Press Freedom Day and what it stands for globally.
In explaining the country’s press freedom, the website states:
“South Africa’s 1996 constitution protects the freedom of its very diverse media. However, apartheid-era legislation and the 2004 terrorism laws are used to limit coverage of government institutions when “national interest” is supposedly at stake. Journalists are harassed and subjected to intimidation campaigns if they try to cover certain subjects involving the ruling ANC, government finances, the redistribution of land to the black population or the #Guptaleaks affair, all which are either off limits or provoke a hostile reaction from the authorities. In June 2017, the dismissal of Hlaudi Motsoeneng, an associate of former President Jacob Zuma, from his position as a senior executive with state-owned TV broadcaster SABC highlighted the fragility of media freedom and independence in South Africa.”
Essentially, World Press Freedom Day celebrates the fundamental principles of press freedom, and also pays tribute to journalists who have been imprisoned or lost their lives while on duty. On Monday, a group of 10 journalists were slain in what has now become known as the country’s biggest attack on media since the fall of the Taliban in 2001.
The 10 journalists were killed in various assaults, highlighting the dangers that the media faces when covering news in a war-torn country. Omar Waraich, the deputy director of Amnesty International’s South Asia region, said that Afghanistan’s journalists are among the bravest in the world.
A double suicide blast in Kabul, which Isis acknowledged as their attack, left 25 people dead. These include nine of the journalists listed above. The 10th reporter, a BBC journalist, was killed in a separate incident in the Khost province. Hours after the Kabul explosion, dozens of Afghan news editors and executives returned to the site in a public display of defiance to militants.
Below is a series of Tweets which celebrates World Press Freedom Day:
I know that there are many outstanding editors, journalists, reporters who are trying their best. Everyone in mainstream media is not compromised or scared. In 2019, they will be the real superstars for taking on this government. Change is coming soon. #WorldPressFreedomDay
— Sanjay Jha (@JhaSanjay) May 3, 2018
On #WorldPressFreedomDay let us all vow to remain always vigilant in order to protect the independence of the media. ‘Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty’.
— Rajat Sharma (@RajatSharmaLive) May 3, 2018
Love to all the brave, courageous journalists out there- many of whom risk their lives on a daily basis to bring the world the truth, many who face challenges & adversities in the form of repression, yet continue to fight.
Thank you. #WorldPressFreedomDay
— Media Diversified (@WritersofColour) May 3, 2018
As a public figure & govt official, I know I am open to scrutiny & criticism – that is just part of the job. A free press ensures that leaders are held accountable & increases transparency.
Today freedom of the press is even more important than ever. #WorldPressFreedomDay pic.twitter.com/ZRJ9r6mksg
— Alaina B. Teplitz (@USAmbNepal) May 3, 2018
Journalists go where angels fear to tread. We owe the storytellers, those who challenge power, who, without fear or favour, hold high office and boardrooms to account our support. Our world would be one dimensional without their work. #WorldPressFreedomDay @Powerfm987
— Iman Rappetti (@imanrappetti) May 3, 2018
“Freedom of expression is the mother of all other freedoms” – @aristeguicnn
Stop attacks against journalists.
Today & every day, stand up for #PressFreedom!
— UNESCO (@UNESCO) May 2, 2018
“A critical, independent & investigative press is the lifeblood of any democracy. The press must be free from state interference. It must have the economic strength to stand up to the blandishments of government officials…..” #NelsonMandela #WorldPressFreedomDay #PressFreedom pic.twitter.com/YBS6fG1Of9
— NelsonMandela (@NelsonMandela) May 3, 2018